Advocates concerned with lack of oversight for nonprofits after dogs saved from Chandler rescue
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The case of April McLaughlin, the woman now charged with 110 misdemeanors for animal cruelty and abuse, is bringing more concerns animal rescues and advocates have to light. One problem is the lack of oversight for nonprofits. “While we wish every rescue out there was reputable, sadly, some of them are not,” said Bari Mears, the president and founder of the Phoenix Animal Care Coalition.
Mears said she founded PACC in 1999 and 15 rescues were a part of her coalition. Now, PACC has 140 rescue partners across the state. She said all of them are vetted and approved if they meet and maintain the PACC’s regulations. She said rescues continue to grow. “Rescues have become a way of life, and with that, there’s always those people who jump in. Sometimes with good intentions that go bad, but sometimes with not good intentions,” said Mears.
She said people can get away with it because there’s no state oversight for nonprofits. “There actually is no process for rescues in the state of Arizona. Anyone can start a rescue. You can start one in your house if you wanted to today, and there’s no oversight of that. That is also another frustration for us right now,” said Tracey Miiller, the director of field operations with the Arizona Humane Society. AHS said it has a team that checks into rescues’ backgrounds for any animal cruelty incidents before adding them to its rescue list.
Mears said the PACC is a highly regarded group and the closest thing to having oversight on Arizona rescues. However, it’s not law enforcement, so the PACC can’t do more than report any serious cases to the police and dismiss the rescue from its coalition. “When a tragic story is revealed, we don’t want it to spill out over on the wonderful work that most rescues do, especially the PACC911 partners,” said Mears. Mears and Miiller said their organizations never worked with McLaughlin.
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