Woman in Chandler animal abuse case files appeal over dog seizure

Oct 26, 2023, 11:26 AM

April McLaughlin filed appeal to get her dogs back...

The woman accused of abusing dozens of dogs in Chandler filed an appeal Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2023, over the seizure of some of those pets.  (Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — The woman accused of abusing dozens of dogs at a heavily packed special needs animal rescue located inside her Chandler home filed an appeal Wednesday over the seizure of some of those pets.

The appeal from April McLaughlin, who filed under the name of Sydney McKinley, follows an Oct. 11 ruling by the Chandler Municipal Court that terminated her rights to 13 dogs she hoped to get back.

McLaughlin initially requested the return of 47 dogs but changed the request to 13 at the hearing. The dogs she was asking for are “family dogs,” according to ABC15.

How will McLaughlin’s appeal be reviewed?

Maricopa County Superior Court will review the issues of law and fact stemming from the hearing, according to the city of Chandler. Though an appeal has been filed, new evidence and testimony will not be able to be submitted, and there will not be a retrial of the facts.

The 13 dogs seized will remain in the custody of the Arizona Humane Society until Maricopa County rules on the appeal.

AHS said it was deeply saddened to learn about McLaughlin’s appeal.

“For over a month, AHS has been caring for the dogs seized from McLaughlin’s residence,” the animal welfare group said in a statement Wednesday. “The dogs have required medical attention for wounds, special assistance for mobility issues, and extra love and care as they recover from deplorable conditions.”

The remaining dogs were abandoned by McLaughlin and given to AHS. Since then, 40 dogs have been reunited with former owners and rescue groups.

“The reunions are emotional for everyone involved, including our staff. AHS wants nothing more than to reunite the remaining dogs with former owners and rescue groups so they can continue their healing journeys and have their second chance at a fresh start,” AHS said.

The group also urged the community to advocate for stronger state laws and local ordinances that protect animals from abuse and neglect.

“While we continue to wait for the legal process to unfold, it is the dogs that are truly the victims in this case,” AHS said. “They deserve better and it is a shame they continue to be wrapped up in the legal system as we all wait for an outcome.”

What happened at the special needs animal rescue in Chandler?

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 euthanized.

An investigation is ongoing, with police continuing to review photos, veterinary records and financial records of donations.

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.

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Woman in Chandler animal abuse case files appeal over dog seizure