When Sunrise police officers went inside Michelline Toulouse’s home earlier this year they found “...dead cats, cat body parts, overflowing litter boxes, lack of water and food, extreme odor of cat feces and decomposing cat bodies...,” according to the city’s petition to remove the cats.
Nearly four months after the gruesome discovery, Sunrise police arrested Touluse Tuesday on 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of cruelty to animals.
“The defendant ... did knowingly, unlawfully, inhumanely, and intentionally cause excessive and repeated infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering to 63 cats, by housing them inside of an abandoned, closed residence, exposing them to feces and urine with no exchange of air and depriving them of necessary substance,” an officer wrote in her arrest report.
As of Wednesday, Toulouse, who runs a non-profit cat rescue organization named Love is Feral and volunteered with the Saving Sage animal rescue, did not show up in Broward’s online inmate search.
In a Facebook post, Toulouse said she is in the hospital recovering from a bad car accident. Police confirmed Tuesday that Toulouse is in custody at the hospital with an officer at her door.
Gina Vlasek, president and founder of Saving Sage, said she was called to the home on May 22 after a friend went to check on Toulouse and what she saw was “horrifying.”
“When something like this happens we have to speak up for [the animals] and make sure that this person never gets an animal again,” Vlasek said.
According to Toulouse’s arrest report, the cats were left alone for months in the abandoned home. Police said nine cats were found dead and 54 were found in bad condition. Police say it appeared that some cats fed on the dead animals.
Toulouse told one of the witnesses via text message that she had been asking for help with the cats for months, according to the police report. She also said she had been there two days before the cats were found.
“But my cries for help went unheard or were not taken serious,” she texted the witness.
Vlasek said they thought she had been evicted from the home and allowed her to stay at Saving Sage overnight sometimes so she could bottle feed some of the rescued animals.
In July, Toulouse was arrested after being accused of stealing money from Saving Sage. The case is still pending, records show.
Vlasek said the cats that were rescued from Toulouse’s abandoned home are now in foster homes.
“I struggle with what I saw in her house,” Vlasek said. “She is someone I would’ve have trusted my own animals.”