GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 7, 2013

Tarr files bill aimed at abuse of animals

A State Senate bill filed by Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester would beef up criminal penalties and create new safeguards against those who commit what Tarr called “horrendous acts of abuse” against animals.

And the Senate Republican Caucus is calling on colleagues in both branches of the Legislature to make the bill a bicameral, bipartisan effort.

“Our laws are woefully outdated regarding the subject of punishing those who abuse animals,” Tarr said in introducing the bill. “As a society, we need to stand up against those who would inflict pain so ruthlessly and coldheartedly and tell them these actions cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The bill comes on the heels of a grisly finding in Quincy six weeks ago, when “Puppy Doe” was euthanized after she had been discovered in a city park suffering from long-term, irreversible damage to her body. The dog’s injuries included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist and ankle; and indications that she had been burned and starved.

It also comes less than a year after a Gloucester man — with a record of past animal abuse, according to police — essentially gutted his pet pit bull Xena after the dog had ingested the man’s heroin at his Prospect Street home.

In that case, John “Jack” Dugan, then 27, was charged with animal cruelty for cutting open and then discarding the dog in an alleged effort to retrieve a package of heroin the dog had eaten.

Dugan has been held in Middleton jail since his initial bail was withdrawn after a probation arrest in March. But his case, which has drawn the attention of animal rights activists across the nation, and has attracted protesters to the Gloucester and Salem courts where hearings have been held, has been delayed at least three times and remains pending in Salem Superior Court.

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