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April 20, 2013

Pit bull heroin defendant's case back to May 3

John “Jack” Dugan, the 27-year-old Gloucester man charged with gutting his pet pit bull last December in a case that outraged animal rights activists, appeared in court briefly Friday before Judge Joseph Jennings simply pushed the case back to May 3.

Dugan entered the courtroom’s glass box in handcuffs, wearing a light blue button-up shirt and left hours later still in handcuffs, with attorneys and a judge just mentioning his name.

Because Dugan was originally arrested on charges of animal cruelty for allegedly cutting open his pet pit bull Xena after the dog ingested heroin, his probation had included an order to remain drug and alcohol free. Dugan was arrested March 6, allegedly having broken those conditions of his probation after a March 5 court date.

Jennings had ordered Dugan held without bail until Friday, when he returned to court in custody, for a hearing on that pretrial probation violation. Dugan’s attorney did not return calls for comment on the case Friday.

The rescheduling of the probation violation charge puts it on the docket for a status review on the same day that the animal cruelty charge is up for status review, as well.

Dugan’s former court appointed attorney Thomas O’Shea had filed a motion to dismiss the case on grounds, he said at the time, that the case lacked an element of “cruelty,” since the Massachusetts law’s definition of cruelty does not include harm inflicted on a deceased animal.

Dugan’s current lawyer, John Morris, has said he plans to file for dismissal on the same grounds as O’Shea’s filing, possibly waiting to take filing action until the case’s status is decided.

“Do I believe that there’s insufficient evidence of animal cruelty? Yes,” Morris said in a January interview with the Times. “I’d be filing a motion to dismiss because the Commonwealth can’t meet the burden at the probable cause level from the plain language contained within the statute.”

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