- Arizona, USA -
~ Update: November 15, 2023
On November 14, 2023, the Chandler Police Department rearrested 48-years-old APRIL MCLAUGHLIN (pictured), also known as SYDNEY TAYLOR MCKINLEY, “for charges pertaining to the ongoing dog abuse investigation that began in early September.”
In a media release police said that investigators submitted seventy-seven (77) misdemeanor charges to the Chandler City Prosecutor for review, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Police explained that twenty-eight (28) of those charges are for intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly failing to provide medical attention to the animals. The other forty-nine (49) charges are under ordinance 13-2910A1, where someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly subjects an animal to cruel neglect or abandonment.
Additionally, police submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and are pending review nine (9) felony animal cruelty charges and nine (9) misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.
~ Original story:
The Chandler Police Department announced the arrest of 48-years-old APRIL MCLAUGHLIN (pictured), following a search warrant executed at her home, near Pecos and Cooper roads, which she ran as a shelter for special needs dogs called Special Needs Animal Welfare League.
Fifty-five malnourished dogs were found to be living in squalid conditions.
Multiple agencies were present on the scene, including the Arizona Humane Society. When officials arrived at the home, the odor was so foul that firefighters were called in and had to wear specialized breathing equipment.
The dogs were found in deplorable living conditions, with some living in filth and in their own feces. The Voiceless Victims had no access to food or water. Many of them will likely need to be euthanized.
Five puppies were found deceased stuffed in a freezer next to frozen food.
KTAR News reports that Rebecca Arizmendi, a board member of Texan shelter Yaqui Animal Rescue, said she sent two disabled dogs, Cheko and Butters, to MCLAUGHLIN’s organization, but MCLAUGHLIN failed to provide updates on the furbabies.
Rebecca and two other members of the Yaqui Animal Rescue then traveled from Texas to Arizona.
Additionally, Rebecca reached out for help to Be Like Josh Foundation, a Chandler-based rescue, and Koco Garcia, the founder of Phoenix-based nonprofit Handover Rover.
Koco then turned to social media and urged netizens to contact Chandler officials.
According to the Daily Mail, reports and requests for an investigation were also made by other rescuers who feared that Special Needs Animal Welfare League was a scam.
Police searched MCLAUGHLIN’s home after a vet alerted them to the condition of three dogs kept at her home on September 8, 2023.
KTAR News reports that according to court documents, the Arizona Humane Society had gone to MCLAUGHLIN’s home on September 9, 2023. They said MCLAUGHLIN denied them entry. On that occasion, AHS “noticed a strong odor of urine and feces near the front door, along with a large cluster of flies.”
Court documents further stated that “AHS was able to see a dog named Butters that was related to the original complaint.” However, they said Butters’ ribs were now visible, while before they weren’t.
As reported by KTAR News, according to court documents, “AHS allegedly arrived again three days later, noticing dogs in the backyard with exposed raw skin and immobile legs. ‘The ammonia smell was extreme’.”
On September 19, 2023, once again, Arizona Humane Society went back to MCLAUGHLIN’s home and as reported by KTAR News, on this third visit, “they identified five dogs in especially dangerous conditions”, court documents said.
On Thursday, September 21, 2023, Koco spoke about the case at a city council meeting and said: “These are not just dogs. These are dogs that are paralyzed, these are dogs that are blind, these are dogs that can’t fend for themselves even if they wanted to.”
Police arrested MCLAUGHLIN on the night of Friday, September 22, 2023, but before the arrest, they said through a press release posted to Facebook that they were aware of the claims and they were working with the Arizona Humane Society to take “all legal measures to ensure the animals are being provided appropriate care.”
Countless comments left on the Chandler Police Department’s Facebook page show the disappointment and anger that many activists felt regarding the police’s delayed intervention in this case.
On Friday, during the execution of the search warrant, the Arizona Humane Society wrote on their Facebook page: “Breaking News: The Arizona Humane Society is on scene with Chandler PD seizing over 50 special needs pets, many of whom need immediate medical attention. Earlier today, Chandler PD received new information that prompted a search warrant in an ongoing case of alleged animal abuse that began two weeks ago. This warrant could not have come soon enough for these at-risk animals who are now being directly transported to our trauma hospital where our veterinary team will provide much needed medical care.”
I chose the following two comments left with regard to this post by the Arizona Humane Society which highlight the general sentiment. One supporter wrote: “[God] bless you all for what you do. I worked at AHS second chance 20 years ago now. It was a great experience for me !! So thank you for what you do it’s hard work. 🥰🥰😊❤️”
Another one who felt differently, commented: “AHS didn’t do this, there were tons of us pushing AHS and Chandler PD to do something about this…mainly rescues that had sent disabled dogs to her rescue thinking they were going to get the care they needed and adopted to good homes. Instead she took their wheelchairs and had them laying in the backyard, pulling themselves around. AHS will go ahead and take the credit though…but the true heroes are the veterinarian that called the police and all the rescues who banded together to get them out of there.”
MCLAUGHLIN is charged with fifty-five (55) counts of animal abuse, fifty-five (55) counts of animal cruelty, and one count of vulnerable adult abuse with her 83-year-old mother also living in the home.
MCLAUGHLIN appeared in court the day after her arrest and a judge set a meager cash-only $2,500 bail.
Voice For Us Disclaimer: This story is sourced from official news outlets. Links included.
Details may be removed or additional information may be provided in future should such sources report an update.
MCLAUGHLIN’s mugshot shared from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
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