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Animal rescue worker charged with cruelty after 50 starving cats were found in her filthy apartment

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Michelline Toulouse, 36, has been charged with nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty after more than 50 cats were found in her abandoned Florida apartment

Michelline Toulouse, 36, has been charged with nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty after more than 50 cats were found in her abandoned Florida apartment 

An animal rescue worker who was fired after allegedly being caught stealing from a shelter has been charged with animal cruelty after more than 50 cats were found living in filthy conditions in her Florida apartment. 

Michelline Toulouse, 36, from Sunrise, Florida, is facing nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty.  

She was already facing charges of criminal mischief and petit theft for allegedly stealing $300 from the Saving Sage Animal Rescue in Boulevard Gardens, in May.

After the shelter fired her over the alleged theft, a former colleague went around to her house to check on her, and was stunned at the conditions she found.

Inside the home were more than 50 malnourished cats  living in squalid and filthy conditions. At least 10 were already dead, according to WPLG.

Video footage showed the inside of Toulouse’s home filled with feces and on the floor and counters and urine in the water bowls. 

The cats were also found malnourished, starving, and dehydrated and some of the cats were living in the walls. 

The cats were allegedly abandoned by Toulouse weeks before being found by police and some of them needed medical attention, CBS4Miami reported earlier this year.

She abandoned the felines before the cats were found in her home by police. Toulouse - who could face felony charges for animal abuse - left the cats sitting in their own filth. Police found the animals with urine in their water bowls and feces on the floors and counters

She abandoned the felines before the cats were found in her home by police. Toulouse – who could face felony charges for animal abuse – left the cats sitting in their own filth. Police found the animals with urine in their water bowls and feces on the floors and counters 

More than 50 cats were taken from the home, with some needing medical attention

More than 50 cats were taken from the home, with some needing medical attention

Gina Vlasek, who runs the Saving Sage Animal Rescue said that Toulouse had been on many trips to ‘animal hoarder’ houses to save cats, and been on one such visit right before the discovery of her own house. 

Saving Sage released a statement concerning its former volunteer saying the organization was ‘saddened but relieved’ about her arrest and hopes she will be ‘held accountable for her crimes.’ 

‘It is unimaginable that a fellow rescuer would be responsible for such horrors,’ the statement said. 

The animals were taken to foster care by Saving Sage, the animal rescue group Toulouse volunteered at

The animals were taken to foster care by Saving Sage, the animal rescue group Toulouse volunteered at 

The home was covered in filth and is estimated that she left the animals up to months

The home was covered in filth and is estimated that she left the animals up to months 

The cats were found with urine in the bowls and in inhabitable conditions. Toulouse also had her own animal rescue called Love Is Feral

The cats were found with urine in the bowls and in inhabitable conditions. Toulouse also had her own animal rescue called Love Is Feral 

Toulouse also ran her own rescue called Love Is Feral, which helped ‘trap, rehabilitate and rehome homeless cats in south Florida.’ 

Toulouse also faces theft charges after she was allegedly caught on surveillance footage stealing the money from the animal rescue group. 

Her boyfriend, Jerome Junior Vaughn, also faces charges, according to News 7 Miami.  

All 50 states have animal cruelty laws that can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Toulouse also face petit theft and criminal misdemeanor charges after allegedly stealing $300 from the rescue with her boyfriend

Toulouse also face petit theft and criminal misdemeanor charges after allegedly stealing $300 from the rescue with her boyfriend 

Florida became the first state to have a statewide animal abuse registry called Dexter’s Law, according to the Florida Bar. 

Florida requires those on the list to update their head-and-shoulders photograph and address and pay a $50 fine yearly.   

It is a first-degree misdemeanor if one fails to register, update their address, or pay the fee.  



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