Desmond’s Law gives pets more power in animal cruelty cases


WOODBRIDGE, Conn. (WTNH) — The owner of Eddie the Pitbull takes much better care of the dog than his last owner.

“As you can see when you meet him, he is literally just a big ball of muscle and love,” said Dave Ulizio.

On dangerously cold day in February, Eddie was abandoned on the side of the road.

Animal control officers in Woodbridge were able to locate the person who did it.

“We were able to prosecute him for animal cruelty,” said Animal Control Officer Karen Lombardi.

Successful prosecution of animal cruelty or neglect cases is rare.

“Unfortunately the numbers are really low,” said Lombardi.

Animal cruelty or neglect cases however, are not.

According to Amy Harrell, President of CT Votes for Animals, the numbers have been alarming.

“About 80 Percent of animal cruelty cases have not even been tried in court – dismissed, tossed out,” said Harrell.

Effective October 1st, “Desmond’s Law” went into effect.

It’s named after a dog that was beaten, starved, strangled and killed.

The owner avoided jail time through accelerated rehabilitation and the crime was eventually expunged from his record.

“This was an outrage,” said Harrell.

The laws purpose is to give more power to the powerless.

Dogs and cats can now have their own advocate.

The law sets up a program that allows law students and attorneys to volunteer their time to assist courts in animal cruelty cases.

Volunteer advocates are given access to evidence and testimony, able to make recommendations to the court.

It’s the first law of its kind in the county.

“It sets a precedence, it gives the animals a voice, it gives the animals an advocate in the court,” said Lombardi.