Chandler police asks for tips; more evidence requested for animal abuse case

New documents show Chandler police were called months ago to a home where dozens of dogs were seized last week and a state lawmaker is calling for changes.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 10:57 AM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Chandler Police Department is asking for more residents to come forward with details about a Valley animal rescue as an investigation into alleged abuse continues.

The department announced a dedicated email address for people to report additional information after officers were tipped off on Sept. 8 about animal abuse allegations regarding a rescue operated by April McLaughlin. Last Friday, Chandler police searched McLaughlin’s home near Pecos and Cooper roads. At the scene, police described smelling a “foul odor” from the house. Fifty-five mixed breeds and special needs dogs were rescued, five of which had to be put down. Court documents later alleged that dead dogs were stored in a freezer beside the food. However, she was released after the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office sent the case back to Chandler police for more evidence to convict her.

Now detectives are asking anyone who could help in the investigation, including veterinarians, rescue groups, neighbors or citizens who had any contact with the “Special Needs Animal Welfare League” to come forward. “We specifically request any photos and veterinary records of the animals before they were in SNAWL’s custody to document their condition prior to being placed in her care,” the department wrote. Those who donated money to any of McLaughlin’s rescues should also contact the authorities.

Hours after Chandler police put out their request for tips, the Arizona Humane Society, which is caring for the rescued dogs, put out a statement on Thursday, saying it’s providing medical records and evidence to Chandler investigators. “This is a critical element in helping us reach our ultimate goal of being awarded custody and returning dogs to rescue groups and individuals who shed light on the situation, contacted authorities, offered support, and care for these dogs very deeply,” a spokesperson said in a written statement.

The nonprofit organization voiced its frustration over the lack of oversight and laws about animal rescues and animal abuse. “Our objectives are to care for and heal these dogs, to work within the law to seek justice for them, and to push for the change needed to protect more animals from abuse and neglect,” the spokesperson said. AHS also emphasized that it’s not law enforcement and that all questions relating to possible charges and prosecutors sending the case back to Chandler police should be sent to the Chandler Police Department or the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

A woman charged with 110 misdemeanors for animal cruelty and abuse, is bringing more concerns animal rescues and advocates have to light.

McLaughlin was also arrested in 2011. According to court documents, a friend reported to the police that her wedding ring, wedding band, and an heirloom engagement ring went missing after McLaughlin watched her dogs at her home. Investigators say McLaughlin pawned off the friend’s heirloom ring in Scottsdale and received $2,000. When arrested, she admitted to “loaning” the ring to the shop. She denied stealing any jewelry and claimed her friend gave her the ring, police said.

Chandler police said those who want to come forward should email:

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