Park bench in memory of 'Fairfield 5' dogs found starved to death to be unveiled

Animal welfare advocates are making sure five dogs found starved to death in a Fairfield home won't be forgotten.
A new bench at Whitewood Knoll Park in Fairfield, with a commemorative plaque, will honor Achilles, Brooklyn, Buddha, Gunner and Meeko - the pit bulls known as the "Fairfield Five."
In November 2018, the dogs were discovered starved to death in their crates at the home of Heidi Lueders, the president of Bully Breed Rescue.
"People felt a guttural reaction to that, thinking that those animals suffered like that, it's heartbreaking," says First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick.
Lueders was arrested for animal cruelty, and the charges were later upgraded to felonies.
Animal welfare group Desmond's Army Animal Law Advocates has been at every one of her hearings as the case continues through the judicial system.
"It was the president of the rescue, and it was such a betrayal, you know, of these dogs," says Zilla Cannamela, the president of Desmond's Army Animal Law Advocates.
The allegations sparked outrage far behind Fairfield.
"We had a huge outpouring of support from the community, really, from all over the country and world," says Cannamela.
Early on, the group decided to raise money for a memorial. Donations poured in for a park bench, which will be unveiled at a special ceremony Saturday.
"We're going to dedicate the bench in honor of the five dogs that lost their lives in a tragic way and talk about animal welfare, talk about being protective of animals and hope that this is a reminder that they matter; that those five dogs matter," says Kupchick.
As for the case against Heidi Lueders, she rejected a plea deal last year and instead requested a trial by judge. A trial date is supposed to be set at her next court hearing but the case has been on hold due to the pandemic.
The next appearance is scheduled for Sept. 23.
The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony, which starts at noon Saturday. Parking is at Tunxis Hill Shopping Center, and masks are required.