SOUTHINGTON – Desmond's Army Animal Law Advocates is offering a $1,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for abandoning six kittens near Crescent Lake.
Zilla Monstella, one of the co-founders of Desmond’s Army, said the kittens were abandoned this Monday.
“They are now with the Southington Animal Control, who found someone to foster them,” she said. “Their eyes were open, which means they are apparently old enough to be away from their mother and not require bottle feeding.”
Monstella said Desmond’s Army offered the reward because abandoning animals is a crime in the state.
“We’re seeing it happen a lot ever since the pandemic,” she said. “It’s an epidemic at this point. People are abandoning animals instead of reaching out to animal control because they still have this misconception of a dog catcher chasing animals around with a net on a pole and then putting them down if they are caught. That is not true anymore; most Animal Control officers are in their field because they love animals.”
Monstella noted the Southington Animal Control “does a wonderful job” of caring for animals like the abandoned kittens.
Monstella urged those who are struggling to take care of their animals to reach out to organizations that provide assistance, such as the Hartford-based “No Animal Left Unfed,” the Plainville Pet Food Pantry, based in the Plainville Police Station, or Winsted-based “For the love of Jack, Inc.”
Monstella also encouraged people to spay and neuter their pets. Some people, she said, abandon kittens and puppies when they don’t expect their pets to give birth.
“If you can’t afford to go to a veterinarian, there are some clinics that offer spay and neuter services at a reduced rate,” she said. “The TEAM mobile unit travels the state and you can make an appointment with them.
For more information on the TEAM unit, visit everyanimalmatters.org.
Desmond’s Army was co-founded by Monstella and Christine Kiernan whey they sought conviction for the 2012 killing of a boxer/pit bull mix named Desmond, which was adopted from a New Haven shelter.
“Desmond was adopted out to what seemed to be a lovely family, then there was a breakup and his owner brought him back to the shelter,” Monstella said.
When the ex-boyfriend found out the dog was returned to the shelter, Monstella said, “In retaliation, he adopted Desmond, starved and abused him. In March 2012 they found his body in a trash bag in the woods. A necropsy revealed that his stomach was empty except for toilet paper and trash bags. Several of his ribs had been broken and he was strangled.”
The Desmond case ultimately resulted in the creation of Desmond’s Law – a state program in which a group of lawyers and University of Connecticut law students take up abuse cases pro-bono and work to convict offenders. In Feb. 2016, the federal government declared animal abuse a felony offense.
After the sentencing in Desmond’s case, the group disbanded for a while. However, they were re-energized by a 2016 case where a Bristol woman hung her two dogs. Desmond’s Army is now frequently seen attending court trials for cases of animal abuse.
“We now have 30 active members and we’re up to 1,000 supporters,” Monstella said. “We go to court and sit in the court room so that the judge will be encouraged to hold animal abusers accountable. If the courts know that we’re watching the cases, they know that someone has an interest in justice being carried out. The judge will often mention us during the trial. They know that we’re here so that the animals will have a voice.”
Monstella said those with information can contact Southington Animal Control at 860-628-8053. Southington Animal Control will then contact Desmond’s Army with the name of the tip provider if it leads to a charge.
For more information on Desmond’s Army, or to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806