Broward County

Animal Rescuer Facing Cruelty Charges for Cats Found in Filthy Sunrise Home

Michelline Joy Toulouse, 36, facing charges after 63 cats had been living in home and 9 died, officials said

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An animal rescue worker is facing animal cruelty charges after dozens of cats had been found living in deplorable conditions in her Sunrise home, authorities said.

Michelline Joy Toulouse, 36, had custody of the 63 cats that were left in her abandoned home for several months, leading to the "excessive suffering and cruel death of 9 cats and the excessive, repeated infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering to the remaining 54 cats," the arrest report said.

Broward Sheriff's Office
Michelline Joy Toulouse

The cats were discovered back in May after neighbors said the smell coming from the home on Northwest 94th Avenue had been unbearable for months.

According to an arrest report, the cats were found in a "toxic and hazardous living environment," and were deprived of necessary food and water while exposed to feces and urine in the home, which had no exchange of air.

Toulouse wasn't listed in Broward jail records Wednesday. Attorney information wasn't available.

Toulouse had been working with several animal rescue groups including Saving Sage. In a statement Tuesday, Saving Sage thanked Sunrise Police for investigating the case.

"Today we are saddened but relieved that Michelline has been arrested and will be prosecuted and held accountable for her crimes for the horrible neglect the animals in her possession have suffered," the statement read. "It is unimaginable that a fellow rescuer would be responsible for such horrors."

Kathy Bienek, the owner of Saving Sage, said Toulouse volunteered there for nearly a year but had been fired after she was arrested for allegedly stealing from the group. Bienek said no animal should live in the conditions the cats were found in.

"If we knew we would have been there and we would not have let any of those things happen and it's just heartbreaking," Bienek said Wednesday. "It’s not excusable one bit. Those cats deserve justice, they did not deserve to be treated in that manner. They should’ve never been in the house."

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