The Gloucester man accused of slicing open his pet pit bull and removing the dog’s guts after it died from ingesting heroin formally pleaded not guilty on animal cruelty and heroin possession charges in his first superior court appearance Wednesday, but remained jailed overnight.
Gloucester police had arrested and charged John “Jack” Dugan with animal cruelty in early December after a woman discovered his dog’s gutted carcass near the Sadler Street extension. Police traced the dog back to her owner and Dugan told officers Xena had ingested a quantity of heroin he had left on his counter and then died.
Dugan never entered pleas in District Court, but prosecutors added three additional counts of animal cruelty and a charge of possessing heroin with the intent to distribute it at his indictment in the higher superior court. His court appointed attorney, John Morris, responded to those charges in court Wednesday.
“These charges are not as strong as the Commonwealth would lead you to believe,” Morris told the judge. “They found no drugs, there are no drugs.”
The prosecution revealed in court Wednesday that the results of a necropsy on the body of pit bull Xena confirmed that the dog was dead when Dugan sliced her open in the bathtub at his Prospect Street apartment. Dugan had told police he made the cuts to relieve bloating and dispose of the carcass, but a veterinarian working with police denied the plausibility of bloating.
Prosecutor Karen Hoopwood Wednesday described the electronic scale and “hundreds” of baggies found in Dugan’s apartment, and added that another dog was seized at the apartment. She quoted Dugan’s ex-girlfriend who had told police that Dugan would frequently hit both dogs for poor behavior, and had watched Xena nearly choke to death on exercise equipment a week prior to the dog’s death.