AP (NEW)

Woman arrested after 55 dogs are removed from animal rescue home and 5 dead puppies found in freezer

Sep 24, 2023, 11:31 AM

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — A Chandler woman who ran an animal rescue out of her now-condemned home has been arrested after dozens of abused dogs were discovered and five dead puppies found in a freezer, according to police.

April McLaughlin, 48, was taken into custody Friday after a search warrant was executed at the house.

The search followed multiple calls and reports from concerned neighbors about smells coming from the home and hoarding conditions, police said.

They said most of the 55 dogs removed from the home were elderly and special-needs animals. They were without water and many will likely need to be euthanized.

The air quality in the home was so bad that firefighters had to wear special breathing equipment. The house is now condemned, according to authorities.

McLaughlin was booked into a Phoenix jail on 55 counts of animal abuse, 55 counts of animal cruelty and one count of vulnerable adult abuse because her elderly mother also lived in the home.

According to court documents, McLaughlin told police she didn’t believe there was anything wrong with storing food next to the dead animals in the freezer. She also said she had been running the rescue for a year and had taken on too many dogs.

A judge set McLaughlin’s cash-only bail at $2,500 at her initial court appearance Saturday and said a public defender would be appointed to represent her. A message seeking comment was left with the Maricopa County public defenders’ office, though it was unclear if a specific attorney had been assigned to the case yet.

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Woman arrested after 55 dogs are removed from animal rescue home and 5 dead puppies found in freezer