Chandler animal abuse investigation latest: Dogs reunited with previous rescues

Butters and Chaco are officially free from April McLaughlin, also known as Sydney McKinley.

"It's a huge day for us," said Dr. Steve Hansen, president and CEO of the Arizona Human Society.

Today, AHS released Butters to his original rescue who saved him after he was found tied up in a front yard with a gunshot wound.

"If it wasn’t for this dog, this wouldn’t be happening," said Sonia Venecia of Yaqui Animal Rescue. "Because of Butters, we started this investigation, and really he’s the hero in all this. If it wasn’t for him, all of these dogs would be dead right now."

The two rescues who are now looking after Butters say their first stop is to a vet in Gilbert. Then, he'll get his wheels that'll allow him to walk.

"I cannot relate to what it's like to receive an animal like him or 50 more and not feel called to provide for them, so for me, I'm so overcome with emotion knowing that very dog will soon be getting that compassion," said Kimberly Elliot, of the Be Like Josh Foundation.

Butters reunited

On Oct. 12, the Arizona Humane Society released Butters to his original rescue, Yaqui Animal Rescue, who saved him after he was found tied up in a front yard with a gunshot wound.

Venecia says the lack of communication with McLaughlin and one picture of Butters looking malnourished was enough for her to intervene.

"After we found out, we started getting suspicious," she said. "It was like we felt guilty, too. You know, it was like how could this happen? How could we be fooled like this? But we took action right away."

That action has so far led to the courts giving AHS permission to release 34 of the dogs to safer homes.


Inside the 'house of horrors': 'Biohazard' detailed in report of Chandler animal, elder abuse suspect's home

We're getting a look inside the Chandler home where dozens of dogs were said to have been abused by April McLaughlin. A report details "biohazards" inside the home as first responders rescued the dogs and her elderly mother from the "house of horrors."

"These dogs came in very poor condition," said Hansen. "They still have a long ways to go, but they're clean, they're starting to gain some weight. They're on the road to recovery."

McLaughlin has 14 days to appeal after a judge on Wednesday denied her request for 13 dogs to be returned to her custody. If she appeals and is denied, those dogs will also be reunited with their previous rescues or put up for adoption.