A Gloucester District Court judge set a pretrial hearing date for May 3 in the case against John “Jack” Dugan, the 27-year-old Gloucester man accused of gutting his pet pit bull in what police say was an attempt to remove heroin from the dog’s innards.
Many people close to the case, including Dugan’s lawyer John Morris, had expected the case to be moved forward to Salem Superior Court as a result of the Tuesday status hearing. But, to the dismay of about a half dozen protesters who stood in front of the court from about 9 a.m. to the time Dugan left the court about 11 a.m., Judge Joseph Jennings took no further action on the charge of animal cruelty except to extend it to May 3, as the defense requested, and add the pretrial hearing for that date, as well.
Dugan has yet to enter a formal plea or face a grand jury indictment in the case that has captured the interest of animal rights activists around the country, with more than 93,000 people signing an online petition urging Judge Jenings to deal harshly with Dugan’s case.
”We’re here to give them the message that people are watching and we’re not going to forget, ever,” said animal rights activist Lisa Casavant.
Casavant travelled from Andover to stand outside the courthouse Tuesday. Gloucester resident Kristen Lark, a pitbull owner herself, came, too, to stand and defend the deceased dog, Xena — part of a breed Lark said is already persecuted.
“What he did to this dog is horrendous,” Lark said. “And the kicker is pitbulls already have a bad rep.”
The protesters waved signs with printed images of the pitbull Xena and messages memorializing the dog, greeting passers-by and watching as Dugan entered the court,. He had been out on bail from jail mid-January upon meeting the terms of a $20,000 cash bond.