ARIZONA NEWS

Chandler woman rearrested on 77 charges in high-profile animal cruelty case

Nov 15, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 6:46 am

Mugshot of April McLaughlin, who is facing dozens of charges in an animal cruelty case where she is...

April McLaughlin is facing dozens of charges in an animal cruelty case where she is accused of abusing dozens of animals. (Chandler Police Department Photo)

(Chandler Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — A Chandler woman accused of abusing 55 dogs was rearrested Tuesday, according to the Chandler Police Department.

April McLaughlin, who also goes by Sydney Taylor McKinley, is facing 77 misdemeanor charges related to an ongoing animal cruelty case that began in early September.

Authorities said investigators submitted the charges to the Chandler city prosecutor for review followed by a warrant issued for her arrest. McLaughlin was arrested without incident, police said. Out of the 77 counts, 49 are for abuse, neglect or abandonment while 28 were for failing to provide medical care or preventing animal suffering while the dogs were in custody.

An additional nine felony animal cruelty charges and nine misdemeanor cruelty to animals charges have also been submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and are pending review, officials said.

Activism leads to animal cruelty investigation

McLaughlin ran an organization called the Special Needs Animal Welfare League. A board member of a Texas animal shelter sent two disabled dogs to McLaughlin’s organization. After failing to hear updates on the dogs from McLaughlin, the rescue began looking into SNAWL. The rescue alleged they received anonymous footage of dogs in hoarding-like conditions at McLaughlin’s house near Cooper and Pecos roads.

In September, McLaughlin was arrested after weeks of social media activism from a network of animal rights advocates. As a result of social media posts alleging animal abuse, the Chandler Police Department began investigating the case.

When welfare workers from the Arizona Humane Society investigated McLaughlin’s home, they noticed a strong odor of urine and feces near the front door with large clusters of flies. Some of the dogs were seen in poor condition and several were deceased. After several visits to her home by AHS, the organization alerted authorities who secured a search warrant ultimately leading to the seizure of the animals and McLaughlin’s arrest on Sept. 22.

McLaughlin was initially 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 for further investigation, which resulted in the new charges.

In October, McLaughlin filed an appeal under her alias to get the seized dogs back. However, a judge ruled she would not get the dogs back.

Several of the dogs seized have either been euthanized or returned to the owners or rescue groups that gave them to McLaughlin.

Chandler city lawmakers changing animal cruelty laws

In the wake of the high-profile case, Chandler lawmakers moved to update the city’s animal cruelty laws.

The city adopted an ordinance earlier this month to amend the language of animal-related regulations in the city code.

According to 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 on Dec. 4.

The changes will go into effect 30 days later if approved.

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Chandler woman rearrested on 77 charges in high-profile animal cruelty case