MCSO investigates alleged animal hoarding at Wittmann home

Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies are investigating an animal hoarding case in the northwest valley.

An 85-year-old woman is accused of hoarding cats, and it's not the first-time deputies have paid a visit to her home.

The conditions inside were so bad that deputies had to wear protective gear.

"Deplorable, horrific, cat urine covered in the house, on the floor, on the walls, on the countertops," said MCSO Detective Dee Daniel.

Sheriff's deputies have been to this home before in the past several years. The owner is in her 80's and lives alone.

"First time we removed 95 cats, the second time 64 cats, this time between 40-50, it is frustrating," said Det. Daniel.

Lucienne Touboul is the owner of the cats and spoke to FOX 10 in 2012. 

"I want all my cats back," said Lucienne Touboul.

Back then, she was arrested for animal crimes but the charges were dismissed.

"It is heartbreaking to see both for the animals and for the owners. This hoarding disease is a mental illness, and it should be dealt with as a mental illness," said Bernard Mangone, a veterinarian for MCSO.

MCSO's veterinarian said most of the cats found were in bad shape, but should be ok.

"We found most of the cats having significant diarrhea, viral infections, many of the younger cats didn't have an eye or eyes because of viral infections... the cats were living in filthy conditions, feces, some of the cats were living in the stove," she said.

Deputies did find some dead cats in the home. 

"This is my third search warrant out here, and the frustrating part is we have been trying and trying to get Ms. Touboul help... we hope that she gets help, that is our whole intention, she needs some help, period," said Det. Daniel.

In all MCSO says they seized more than 200 cats from her home over the past five years. The owner is likely to face more animal cruelty charges for the latest case, but for now she is not going to be arrested.
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