- In September, 55 malnourished dogs, including special needs rescue dogs, were rescued in Chandler, Arizona, from squalid conditions and alleged abuse
- April McLaughlin, 48, was arrested after the bodies of five dead dogs were found in her freezer, but she was released days later
- DailyMail.com can reveal that McLaughlin has been arrested again and hit with 77 misdemeanor charges of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment
April McLaughlin was re-arrested on additional charges stemming from an ongoing animal abuse investigation on Tuesday after dog lovers nationwide demanded justice
An Arizona woman who was arrested after 55 abused and malnourished dogs were found in her home has been arrested again and hit with more than six dozen new charges.
April McLaughlin, also known as Sydney Taylor McKinley or April Addison, was re-arrested on additional charges stemming from an ongoing animal abuse investigation after dog lovers nationwide demanded justice.
McLaughlin faces 77 misdemeanor charges of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment and faces the possibility of an additional nine felony charges of cruelty to animals.
The 48-year-old was originally arrested in September after the Chandler Police Department raided her home and removed 55 disabled dogs that were in such poor condition many had to be euthanized.
Authorities also found five dead puppies in her freezer.
McLaughlin was operating a special needs dog rescue under the name Special Needs Animal Welfare League which turned out to be a fraudulent non-profit.
Rather than caring for these vulnerable dogs, McLaughlin, who allegedly has around 15 different aliases, was pocketing the donations and hoarding the dogs who were subjected to horrendous abuse and deadly neglect.
The home of April McLaughlin in Chandler, Arizona, where 55 dogs were removed from the property
The home was raided in September after McLaughlin was accused of hoarding dozens of disabled dogs in unsanitary conditions with no medical treatment
McLaughlin and her special needs dog, a husky named Clyde, gained popularity online. Clyde was one of the 55 dogs removed from her house He is now living with a foster family
Rudy (left) was one of Shira Astrid’s dogs that had to be humanely euthanized after being removed from McLaughlin’s house during the September raid. Eisa, a German Shepard, also had to be euthanized
An adorable pup named Angel had to be euthanized after he was found in dire conditions in McLaughlin’s home
Within 48 hours of her first arrest on September 22, McLaughlin was released after the Maricopa County Attorney’s office sent the case back to the investigating police department in an attempt to gather more evidence – which they finally managed leading to the second arrest.
McLaughlin found fame in 2018 when she adopted a special needs dog named Clyde and began posting photos of the seemingly happy and healthy husky on various Instagram accounts.
Soon after she began contacting different dog rescue groups and offering to take in their pups with disabilities. She would allegedly use different names and several Instagram accounts to con people into thinking that she only had a few dogs, when in fact she was accumulating more and more.
Rebecca Arizmendi with her dog Butters who was the catalyst for the initial investigation. Butters had lost up to 15lbs, and had lost so much weight that his bones were visible. His feet, tail and rear end was raw, covered in rashes
At one point, she had over 70 dogs living in her house. These dogs needed extra care, which authorities say she failed to give them.
‘It’s like she has some twisted obsession to take on so many dogs, manipulate people into thinking she’s some sort of hero,’ said one person involved in the case.
News of McLaughlin’s re-arrest came as a welcome surprise for those in the animal rescue community who have fought day and night for months to expose her alleged duplicity and bring justice for the dozens of dogs that suffered in her house of horrors.
Rebecca Arizmendi spearheaded the investigation leading up to the first arrest after she became worried about her two special needs dogs, Butters and Checo, that had been placed under McLaughlin’s care earlier in the year.
‘I got suspicious when April stopped returning my calls. At first she was posting photos of the dogs and staying in touch and then she just up and stopped. When I asked to see more photos, she claimed she was too busy,’ Arizmendi told DailyMail.com.
‘She also said one of my dogs had been living with a foster family, when he was actually living in her filthy backyard,’ said Arizmendi, who spent months trying to discover McLaughlin’s whereabouts after she went into hiding.
‘I’m happy that she’s been arrested. I’m cautiously optimistic though….you never know what that police department is gonna do.
‘I hope the Maricopa County Attorney’s office pursues felony charges as well,’ said Arizmendi, who serves on the board of the Yaqui Animal Rescue in South Texas and has since been reunited with her dogs.
‘Butters and Checo are lucky to be alive. They were some of the survivors,’ she said.
McLaughlin has been hit with 77 misdemeanor charges of animal abuse, neglect and abandonment
Dogs can be seen scattered about the residence with some behind metal cages
Some dogs were found to have been living outside in the Arizona heat without adequate shelter
Another one of the 55 dogs is seen after being rescued by Chandler Police and the Arizona Humane Society
Arizmendi has traveled back and forth from Texas to Arizona three times in the last few months in her determination get McLaughlin behind bars. She and her wife have been nursing their dog Butters back to health whle Checo has gne into foster care.
‘The first time I arrived at the house, all I can remember is the stench. It smelled like death and I could hear the dogs whimpering from within the house. You could see tons of flies on the window inside the house. It was absolutely horrendous,’ she explained.
Shira Astrof was also instrumental in triggering the raid on McLaughlin’s house after seeing a video of her dog, Chester, who had lost use of his rear legs and had been living with McLaughlin for two years.
‘It was a video of my dog Chester without his wheels dragging his back legs across gravel in the scorching heat with no water or shade in someone’s backyard. I was absolutely shell shocked,’ Astrof told DailyMail.com.
Kimberly Elliott’s special needs dog Josh is pictured. She is the founder of The Be Like Josh Foundation which advocates for dogs with neurological disabilities
‘I got on the next flight out to Phoenix and when I arrived at her home, the smell of death was insane. I was pounding on the door, but she wouldn’t give me back my dogs. It wasn’t until later that night, that her home was finally raided.
‘April’s arrest signifies that we do have the power to demand that animal abusers be held accountable for their actions!
‘We must continue advocating for stricter animal cruelty laws because our voices are being heard. Animal cruelty is a heinous crime that must be taken seriously,’ added Astrof, who runs the Los Angeles based non-profit The Animal Rescue Mission.
‘To make matters worse, there are no hoarding laws in Chandler. The most important thing for me is that this never happens again. Laws need to changed to protect these animals,’ she said.
Astrof’s two dogs Chester and Bailey made it out alive, but her German Shepherd Rudy wasn’t so fortunate and had to be euthanized after being removed in the raid.
Astrof explained how April had reached out to her two years ago when her animal rescue was looking for a home for Bailey, a special needs dog who can’t use his back legs and was living in a kennel in Mexico. At the time, April went by the name Sammy and said she was looking for a companion for her dog who had a deformed paw.
‘After taking in Bailey, this was during Covid, she posted photos of Bailey and her dog almost daily for a straight year. We spoke on the phone on a regular basis,’ Astrof told DailyMail.com.
A year later, Astrof placed two more special needs dogs with McLaughlin who promised to provide a happy and safe home for the additional pups, Chester and Rudy. The vet technicians who had been taking care of the two dogs in Los Angeles even drove to Arizona to meet with McLaughlin in person.
‘They (the vet technicians) came back singing her praises. They said she was amazing. She explained that she couldn’t let people come to her house though because she was in hiding from her abusive ex-husband,’ said Astrof. ‘Instead, she gave a virtual tour of her home which turned out to be an Airbnb or someone else’s home.’
Shira Astrof was also instrumental in triggering the long-needed raid on McLaughlin’s house after seeing a video of her dog, Chester, who had been living with McLaughlin for two years
Astrof, founder of the Los Angeles based non-profit The Animal Rescue Mission, is pictured with her special needs dog Chester who was living in McLaughlin’s filthy backyard in the scorching sun with no shade or water, dragging his legs on gravel because his wheels were removed. He has now been reunited with Astrof
McLaughlin devised such an elaborate scheme that she had rescue groups around the world convinced that her non-profit provided the best of the best for disabled dogs in need of specialized care.
She also had the support of veterinarians who fell for her alleged scam.
The Dodo, a popular website that showcases compelling and uplifting animal stories, even did a feature on McLaughlin and her special needs dog, a German Shepherd named Clyde, which reached millions of viewers and made her popularity skyrocket.
Kimberly Elliot, founder of The Be Like Josh Foundation which advocates for dogs with neurological disabilities told DailyMail.com that she had been trying to expose McLaughlin’s non-profit since 2019 when she received a tip from a fellow dog rescuer that something was amiss with the organization.
‘She was so popular on Instagram with Clyde the Super Husky, that no one believed us when we warned them. It all started in 2018 when she adopted Clyde and got a lot of supporters. She would reach out to these special needs rescues and ask for specific dogs to adopt.
‘Special needs dogs require a tremendous amount of support and April said she could provide them with top notch medical care and then she would post tons and tons of videos on her different Instagram pages of the dogs looking all happy and healthy when in fact it was all for show,’ Elliot said.
In an attempt to warn the rescue community, an Instagram page called clydethesuperhusky_truth was created in 2019 to expose McLaughlin and has become key in documenting her alleged cons.
The woman who helped co-create the account remains anonymous.
‘I am not going to call it a hard won battle because it’s not over yet. If she gets jail time, she will eventually get out of jail and then we have to be back watching her to make sure she doesn’t get more dogs,’ said the dog-lover.
Thirteen of the 55 dogs removed from the house, which has now been deemed a biohazard, remain in the custody of the Arizona Humane Society after McLaughlin filed a petition to have her ‘property’ returned.
McLaughlin’s next court hearing is scheduled for November 30 in Chandler, Arizona.