Chandler Woman Re-Arrested For 77 Animal Abuse Charges

April McLaughlin

The Chandler Police reported on Tuesday that a woman accused of abusing and neglecting 55 animals has taken into custody again.

April McLaughlin, otherwise known as Sydney Taylor McKinley, is under indictment for seventy-seven misdemeanors due to a prolonged animal cruelty case that was initiated in the beginning of September.

Law enforcement declared that they had forwarded the allegations to the Chandler city prosecutor for review, which ultimately led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for McLaughlin. She was detained without resistance.

Out of the 77 charges, 49 of “intentionally, knowingly [subjecting] a domestic animal to cruel mistreatment.” Each of these counts is a class five felony, and the other 28 charges are “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [subjecting] any animal under the person’s custody or control to cruel neglect or abandonment.” Each of these counts is a class one misdemeanor.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has received nine felony and nine misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for review, officials reported.

The situation was first brought to light back in September when the Special Needs Animal Welfare League (SNAWL), operated by McLaughlin, was contacted by a board member of a Texas animal shelter who sent two disabled canines. After not getting any information from McLaughlin regarding the animals sent, the rescue started examining SNAWL. Allegedly the shelter received an anonymous video of dogs in a hoarding-like state at McLaughlin’s home close to the intersection of Cooper and Pecos roads.

After several weeks of animal rights activists speaking out on social media, McLaughlin was taken into custody by the Chandler Police Department in September. This was in response to the claims of mistreatment of animals that had been posted online.

When the Arizona Humane Society investigated McLaughlin’s home, there was a strong smell of urine and feces near the entrance with numerous clusters of flies. A few of the dogs were in a terrible state and many others had died. The Arizona Humane Society informed the authorities who later obtained a search warrant, which resulted in the confiscation of the animals and McLaughlin’s apprehension on Sept. 22.

Dozens of counts of animal neglect and neglecting to provide medical treatment were filed against McLaughlin, but the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office decided to further investigate the case, which led to the new charges.

In October, McLaughlin attempted to have the dogs, seized from her, returned to her, however, the judge presiding over the case determined that she would not be allowed to have them back.

Some of the dogs that were removed from McLaughlin’s home had to be put down and others were given back to individuals or rescue organizations that had originally handed them over to McLaughlin.

In reaction to the widely-publicized incident, legislators from Chandler are taking steps to revise the municipality’s animal cruelty statutes.

The municipality recently approved a law to alter the wording of the pet-related statutes in their code of ordinances.

The Chandler City Charter dictates that all ordinance proposals must be presented at two council meetings for voting. On Dec. 4, the council will hold a second vote on the revised animal code. If approved, the change will become effective 30 days later.