Authorities removed an estimated 55 dogs from a Chandler home in an animal abuse investigation.
Chandler police served a search warrant for the residence of April McLaughlin, who runs an animal rescue called Special Needs Animal Welfare League (SNAWL).
The Arizona Humane Society took custody of all the dogs that were removed from the home
A search warrant was issued for the home near Cooper and Pecos roads, after a veterinarian contacted police Friday with concern.
Official reports state that many of the dogs seized in the home are special needs dogs. The majority of the dogs are in need of immediate medical attention due to various injuries. In addition, the majority of the dogs either dragged themselves to get around or shook due to neurological issues.
Authorities also found five deceased puppies in the freezer.
The Chandler Police have been investigating the situation for approximately two weeks and have been receiving concerning calls about the rescue since September 8.
On September 9, the Arizona Humane Society initiated a welfare check at the home to check on the animals.
Court documents state that upon arrival, the Arizona Human Society (AHS) noticed the smell of urine and feces near at front door. There was also a large cluster of flies near the front door.
On several visits to the rescue/home, AHS reported the dogs to be in very poor health. Many dogs were believed to have neurological issues, open wounds and kennel cough.
Court documents detail that a responding veterinarian advised the homeowner that many of dogs needed immediate follow up due to the severity of their injuries, including what they believed amputations of the legs or the tail. Veterinary records were provided to the police.
After the deep concern of the responding veterinarians, police were able to obtain a search warrant. The Fire Department, outfitted in a self-contained breathing apparatus were first sent into the home to test the air quality. According to reports, the home had poor air quality.
Sadly, what police found inside the home were found numerous crates stacked on top of one another with animals inside sitting on puppy pads and towels covered with urine and feces. It was also reported that none of the dogs had access to water.
Investigators found that all rooms of the house had dogs inside them.
McLaughlin reported investigators she had been running the rescue for approximately year but had not adopted any of the dogs out. She believed she was at the start of a hoarding problem and had taken in too many dogs.
In addition, police learned that McLaughlin’s mother moved in with her in 2020 and could care for herself after suffering a stroke in 2020. McLaughlin’s mother was forced to sleep on the couch since the bedrooms are occupied by dogs. Court documents report that her mother had not slept on a bed in three years.
McLaughlin was arrested and booked for charges on animal neglect and cruelty and she is also facing a charge of vulnerable adult abuse.
The animals are being cared for by the Arizona Humane Society. Reports on the condition of dogs range from no issues for some to severe condition in many others.
This incident remains under investigation.