For Immediate Release - June 02, 2014

Gloucester Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruetly and Drug Charges

A Gloucester man who cut open his dead pit bull’s stomach after she had eaten illegal narcotics pleaded guilty today in Salem Superior Court to three counts of animal cruelty and one count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, just as jury empanelment was about to get underway. 

Judge Timothy Feeley sentenced John Dugan, 28, to 2 ½ years in the House of Correction with 18 months to be served on the charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, the balance suspended for three years with probation.  He imposed an identical sentence on one of the counts of cruelty to animals.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Karen Hopwood, second seated by Assistant District Attorney Paul Wagoner, had asked the court to sentence Dugan to three years to three years and a day in state prison, with three years of probation from and after the sentence.   

On the other two counts of animal cruelty, Dugan will be on probation for three years from and after his committed sentence for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  Conditions of his probation are that he submit to mental health and drug evaluations, and receive treatment as deemed necessary.  He is not to use any alcohol or drugs, and is subject to random screens.  In addition, he is not to reside in any residence where there are animals, and is not allowed to work with animals.

Two of the animal cruelty charges stemmed from instances when, on diverse dates, Dugan punched his two pit bulls, Xena and Damion, in the face.  The third charge relates to an instance in which Xena’s leash became entangled in exercise equipment in Dugan’s apartment, and instead of helping her, he let her choke until she lost consciousness and needed to be revived.

A judge previously dismissed an additional animal cruelty charge of neglect for leaving Xena in the presence of illegal narcotics, which she consumed.  In addition, because the incision to Xena was found to be post-mortem, the Commonwealth was precluded from pursuing charges related to that act. 

“This case should send a message to anyone who would treat a helpless animal with such cruelty,” said District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, who was named one of the nation’s top ten animal defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.   

Dugan was represented by Attorney John Morris.