GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 7, 2012

Man charged in grisly pitbull case tied to heroin

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

---- — Police have charged the owner of a pitbull with animal cruelty, after his pet was found dead, sliced open, and discarded over an embankment at the end of Sadler Extension Tuesday afternoon.

John “Jack” Dugan, the 26-year-old dog-owner and Prospect Street resident, was arrested Wednesday about 1:23 p.m., with his bail posted at $25,000.

According to police, the dog — whose body was discovered by another dog owner walking her own dog in the area — was completely disembowled, and authorities found the dog’s entrails enclosed in a plastic bag that officers retrieved from a nearby Dumpster.

Police said that Dugan’s pitbill Xena had apparently swallowed unpackaged heroin that Dugan said he had left on a counter in his home, as well as a sealed bag of the narcotic. Officers believe that Dugan cut the pitbull open in order to retrieve the sealed bag of heroin, according to the police report.

Police found the dog’s entrails enclosed in a plastic bag, which officers retrieved from a nearby dumpster.

According to the police report, Dugan confirmed officers’ suspicion that the dog had overdosed on heroin and died after eating the narcotic. But Dugan’s excuse for slicing the dog was different. Dugan told police that after the dog died, she began to bloat with gas, so he cut the pitbull open in order to make her body easier to dispose of by releasing the gases, according to the report.

An animal hospital doctor told police, however, that bloating would have been unlikely, and called Dugan’s explanation of cutting the dog open to relieve bloating a “blatant lie.”

Police found a scale and small sandwich bags in Dugan’s apartment during a search. The animal control officer seized another pitbull dog, owned by Dugan, from Dugan’s house during the search, according to the report.

The police report notes that Dugan was also arrested on an animal cruelty charge in 2007 after breaking the legs of a past girlfriend’s dog “in a fit of rage,” according to reports at the time. He was also charged with marijuana possession in 2009 after police serving him with a restraining order found more than an ounce of pot and $1,900 in cash in his apartment.

The police report from the current case notes that, on Xena’s neck and head, officers also found multiple bite marks. But, Campanello said, the wounds seemed to result not from organized dog fighting, but from casual play between Xena and Dugan’s other pitbull, named Damian.

Gloucester police have been conducting the investigation in conjunction with a state police officer from the MSPCA-Angell’s animal cruelty investigations unit. The investigation is ongoing and police could seek additional charges, Campanello said Friday.

Gloucester police have been conducting the investigation in conjunction with a state police officer from the MSPCA-Angell’s animal cruelty investigations unit.

We will update this story here at gloucestertimes.com as more information becomes available. To have text updates regarding this story and other local Breaking News coverage sent to your mobile phone, just sign up for the Times’ free text-alert service on the gloucestertimes.com homepage.

For more up-to-date coverage, follow the Times news team on Facebook or via Twitter.com @gdtnews. For full coverage, look to tomorrow’s print and online editions of the Gloucester Daily Times and gloucestertimes.com.

Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.