Chandler lawmakers moving to update animal cruelty laws after high-profile case

Nov 10, 2023, 10:46 AM

The Arizona Humane Society worked with police to seize 55 dogs from a Chandler, Arizona, home on Se...

The Arizona Humane Society worked with police to seize 55 dogs from a Chandler, Arizona, home on Sept. 22, 2023. The Chandler City Council voted Nov. 9, 2023, to tentatively adopt changes to the East Valley City's animal cruelty laws. (Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Humane Society)

PHOENIX — In the aftermath of a high-profile dog abuse case, Chandler lawmakers are moving to update the East Valley suburb’s animal cruelty laws.

The Chandler City Council tentatively adopted an ordinance Thursday to amend the language of animal-related regulations in Chapter 14 of the city code.

The changes would redefine what constitutes animal cruelty, better regulate cases of hoarding and unlawful restraint of animals, and address issues involving seizures.

A draft of the proposal was previously distributed to several area animal welfare groups for feedback, including the Arizona Humane Society, and posted online for public comment.

Per the Chandler City Charter, ordinance proposals must go through votes at two council meetings. A second vote on the animal code updates will be held Dec. 4. If approved, the changes will go in effect 30 days later.

How long has Chandler been working on animal cruelty law updates?

A Chapter 14 update was in the works before a September case put a spotlight on animal cruelty in Chandler.

A draft ordinance was submitted to the city manager for initial review a month before authorities acting on multiple tips regarding inhumane conditions seized 55 dogs from April McLaughlin’s home on Sept. 22.

McLaughlin was running a rescue for special needs animals at her residence near Cooper and Pecos roads.

Authorities also found five dead puppies stored in the freezer next to food. Several of the seized dogs had to be euthanized.

What’s the status of Chandler animal cruelty investigation?

McLaughlin was initially arrested and booked on dozens of counts of animal neglect and failing to provide animals medical treatment, but the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office referred the charges back to the Chandler Police Department for further investigation.

Police set up an email address where citizens, rescue organizations and veterinary professionals can submit information about dogs adopted from McLaughlin’s rescue, the Special Needs Animal Welfare League. Investigators are also looking for people who donated money to her operation.

McLaughlin filed a petition under the name of Sydney McKinley seeking the return of 13 of the seized dogs, which she said were family pets, but a judge rejected her request last month. The appeals process is ongoing.

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Chandler lawmakers moving to update animal cruelty laws after high-profile case