As animal rights advocates collected signatures on a petition pushing for a maximum sentence against the 27-year-old Gloucester man accused of gutting his pet pit bull Xena in December after the dog ingested heroin, the man — John Dugan — has stepped out of Middleton Jail upon meeting the terms of his $20,000 cash bail.
Eugene C. Tessicini, also of Gloucester, laid down $20,000 in bail to gain the release of Dugan on Jan. 13, and Dugan registered Tessicini’s residence as the place he will be staying for the remainder of his trial, according to court documents.
Tessicini, when reached by telephone Tuesday, declined to comment on the case or on his bail posting, calling it a private, personal issue.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists have collected over 65,000 signatures on an online petition called “Request justice for Xena, gutted by her owner.”
The point of the petition, said Lisa Casavant of Andover, who posted the petition, is to urge Gloucester District Court Judge Joseph Jennings to continue the case to trial, then impose the maximum penalty on Dugan if he is found guilty.
“This could be a landmark case, and I know that there’ve been efforts in the past to beef up the laws, but anything that pertains to animals kind of takes a back seat to any other issues that are on people’s mind,” Casavant said. “We’ll keep up the pressure, making everybody that we can aware. We could really take a stance against this level of animal cruelty.”
Dugan is not to possess animals and may be subject to random screens for illegal drugs, ordered Judge Jennings, presiding over the case, on Dec. 7. Another pit bull Dugan had owned was seized from his house during a post-arrest search, and has already been adopted, according to police.
Dugan had been arrested on Dec. 5, just one day after police discovered his gutted pit bull, Xena, discarded over the Sadler Extension embankment, her entrails tucked away in a bag and thrown into a nearby dumpster. Police believe Dugan cut Xena open to retrieve a sealed packet of heroin that the dog ingested along with an unsealed bag, both of which had been left on Dugan’s kitchen counter, according to a report.