McGaughey's dogs won the most races. He made the most money. He was the best and the brightest of the cretinous lot that claims that greyhound racing is a civilized sport.
McGaughey is now the most prominent man in the Arizona greyhound-racing industry since John Harvey Adamson, also a dog trainer, placed a dynamite charge under Don Bolles' car.
To those uninitiated in the wondrous world of Arizona crime cum politics, Bolles was an Arizona Republic reporter who made the mistake of writing stories critical of the powers that run dog racing.
McGaughey's court appearance served to provide us all with an unaccustomed look behind the scenes of this strange underworld.
McGaughey, 64, a bulky man in an ill-fitting suit, sat there each day in court with his face reddening frequently, listening to the evidence build against him.
I never thought it was serious," McGaughey said when it was over. I never got scared until I heard them say I committed a felony. It was then I realized I could lose my license and be out of business." And why should McGaughey have been scared"? McGaughey, after all, was no different from any other breeder or trainer in the dog-racing business. They all treat their animals the same way.
The killing is indiscriminate. No one ever complains. No one knows. Only this time it was different.
For days, the fifth-floor courtroom of Judge Ronald Reinstein was packed by outraged animal lovers.
They were bursting with indignation over McGaughey's shooting of more than 100 greyhounds who were no longer able to win races for him.
The wasted carcasses of the dogs had been found tossed in an orchard adjacent to McGaughey's Chandler breeding farm.
The dog lovers not only packed Reinstein's court but they demonstrated on the street in front of the courthouse as well. They also wrote scores of letters to the judge characterizing McGaughey as a mass murderer.
Then the media build-up began. Television cameras were moved into the courtroom for daily reports. The reporters from all the papers and radio stations began showing up. Suddenly, without anyone planning it, this had turned into a big story.
But let me make this simple for you.
Here is all you need to know about the dirty business they call dog racing.
The dog-track lobbyists own our state legislators. For this simple reason, there are no laws holding dog owners and trainers like McGaughey to any real standard of civilized behavior.
When the dogs can't run fast enough to make money for their owners, they are shot to death and tossed away. There is no Arizona law against the indiscriminate killing of healthy dogs. You can kill all of them you want. You just can't toss the dead bodies on other people's property.
The dogs are raised in large numbers and they are killed just as fast. Only the winners survive-for a time. But the end is the same for all racing dogs. This is an iron fact of the business.
The only reason McGaughey was caught is because he is by nature a thrifty man. For years he had been shooting his used-up dogs and tossing their bodies into his trash dumpsters.
But the company that removed McGaughey's trash wanted more money from him to cart off the dead animals.
So, to save money, McGaughey hit on a simple plan. Whenever he had to remove a few laggard dogs from his collection, he would load them in the back of his truck and drive them to an adjoining piece of property in Chandler.
McGaughey was good at killing dogs. He admitted doing it himself because most of the trainers he hired were squeamish about this part of the job. They viewed it as unpleasant." McGaughey shot the dogs in the side of the head and then cut off their left ears, which contained identifying serial numbers. Then he tossed the carcasses away in the field and drove off.
Who would ever know whose dogs they were, he thought? Who could ever prove anything against him?
But investigators John Wagner, a special agent of the Attorney General's Office, and Steve Lump, of the Arizona Racing Board, conducted an exhaustive inquiry.
Upon going through McGaughey's killing field, they found the carcasses of approximately 140 dogs. Then they began exhaustive questioning of people in the dog business.
Finally, they found Mike Pendergast. He was a former trainer for McGaughey who had lived on the property for several years. He could tie McGaughey to the killings.
Faced with this, McGaughey confessed to Wagner and arranged to plead guilty.
It turned out that the killings by McGaughey were a late-afternoon ritual. He would load up his truck with three or four dogs and put his .22 caliber pistol on the front seat. Then McGaughey would drive off with them.