Judge rules dogs won’t be returned to woman in Chandler animal abuse case
Oct 12, 2023, 9:25 AM | Updated: Oct 26, 2023, 11:12 am
(Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)
PHOENIX — A judge ruled Wednesday that the woman at the center of a large animal abuse case out of Chandler won’t be getting the dogs back.
“The court ruled that the dogs experienced cruel mistreatment, cruel neglect or abandonment in violation of the Arizona Animal Cruelty Law and terminated the owner’s rights to the dogs,” Matthew Burdick, city spokesperson, said in a press release Thursday.
April McLaughlin, who filed a petition last week under the name of Sydney McKinley, initially requested the return of 47 dogs but changed her request to 13 at the hearing.
According to court records from her arrest last month, McLaughlin ran a rescue operation for special needs dogs from her home.
The dogs McLaughlin was asking for are “family dogs,” according to ABC15.
The 13 dogs will remain in the Arizona Humane Society’s custody for 14 days to allow her to appeal the ruling. If one is filed, the dogs will stay with AHS until the appeal is heard.
“We are cautiously optimistic that, in the end, full legal custody of the remaining dogs will be transferred to AHS,” the animal welfare group said in a statement.
As for the other 34 dogs, once AHS receives an abandonment order that was requested by prosecutors, it can begin reuniting the animals with their former owners or rescue groups.
“Our goal from the beginning was to provide these pets with a safe and loving environment until they could be reunited with their former owners and rescue groups and we are relieved to be one step closer in reaching that goal,” AHS said.
What is McLaughlin accused of doing to the dogs?
McLaughlin was arrested Sept. 22 on 55 counts of animal neglect and 55 counts of failing to provide animals medical treatment after authorities received multiple tips regarding the conditions at her home near Cooper and Pecos roads.
The arrest came nearly two weeks after AHS secured a search warrant on Sept. 9 for her home, where welfare workers noticed strong urine and feces odors near the front door along with a large cluster of flies.
When AHS went back to the home, some dogs were seen in poor condition, police said. As a result, 55 dogs were taken.
Authorities also found five dead puppies stored in the freezer next to food.
Several of the dogs seized have been either euthanized or returned to the owners or rescue groups that gave them to McClaughlin.
In addition to animal cruelty, she is facing one count of abusing a vulnerable adult after investigators interviewed McLaughlin’s mother, who was also living at the home.