Docs: Frozen dead dogs found in Chandler home linked to animal rescue; 55 rescued

April Mclaughlin is out of jail after posting bond
A search at a Chandler home ended with dozens of dogs rescued on Friday evening. Now court documents allege that the homeowner stored some dead in a freezer.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:17 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 27, 2023 at 10:58 AM MST
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CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) A search at a Chandler home ended with dozens of dogs rescued and the homeowner in custody on Friday evening. Now court documents allege that April Mclaughlin was also storing deceased dogs in the freezer.

Police searched her home Friday evening after receiving information from a veterinary professional regarding the condition of three dogs. The house, near Pecos and Cooper roads, is also an animal rescue accused of neglecting dogs. Officers arrived to find a foul odor and requested a hazardous materials team. “We wanted to ensure there weren’t hazardous fumes occurring at the residence with first responders inside a very small home, so that’s why they were requested to ensure that everybody was safe inside the home,” said Chandler Police Sgt. Emma Huenneke.

As of Saturday, police say 55 dogs were taken from Mclaughlin’s home. The Arizona Humane Society said on Tuesday of those 55, five of them were put down. “These dogs were suffering horrifically,” a spokesperson said in a written statement. If a dog had a microchip, the ashes will be returned to the last known rescue. AHS staff members are taking care of the other 50 dogs.

Huenneke said the police investigation into the rescue started on Sept. 8 when they were tipped off about the abuse allegations. Huenneke said officers had been out to the home . Mclaughlin was taken into custody on Friday night. She was booked on 55 counts of animal abuse, 55 counts of animal cruelty and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. She made her first initial court appearance Saturday afternoon, during which state prosecutors told the judge that they had found dogs in poor living conditions, explaining that some dogs had been found living in their own feces, had no water, and that many will likely need to be euthanized. Authorities also alleged that the air quality in the home was so bad, that firefighters who arrived had to wear special breathing equipment and had the house condemned. Prosecutors also explained that the vulnerable adult charge stemmed from Mclaughlin’s mother who was living at the home. The mother reportedly asked the court that her daughter be released from jail immediately.

Friday was the first time officers were inside the house, Huenneke said. Officials say the vet’s tip gave investigators enough information to search the house. Huenneke added that most, if not all, dogs in the house are mixed breeds and special needs dogs. Newly obtained court documents released by Chandler police revealed that dogs at the home had difficulty vocalizing, were covered in tarps and some had wire crates stacked on top of each other. During that search warrant, detectives also uncovered deceased frozen dogs in Mclaughlin’s freezer. During an interview with police, Mclaughlin allegedly admitted to storing the dead dogs next to the food in the freezer and said she did not believe there was anything wrong with storing them there.

Meanwhile, some are calling Special Needs Animal Welfare League a scam. A Texas rescue sent a dog named Butters to the Chandler rescue since the pup was disabled. But when the Texas rescue saw pictures of the dog looking thin, they went to investigate. They claim dozens of dogs live in the Chandler home. However, Arizona’s Family also talked to a woman associated with the Chandler rescue, who said the allegations are untrue.

Mclaughlin was being held in the Maricopa County jail, but posted bond and was released early Wednesday morning. She faces 110 misdemeanors, two counts for each animal abuse accusations: one for cruel/neglect and abandonment; and a second count for failure to provide medical treatment.

A Texas animal rescue posted animal abuse allegations against a Chandler dog rescue and that has police and the Arizona Humane Society investigating.

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