Dozens of diseased, dying cats found in Wittmann home; 10 in freezer

Posted: Updated:
By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

WITTMANN, Ariz. -- An 80-year-old Wittmann woman likely will be charged with felony animal abuse after Maricopa County sheriff's deputies found dozens of diseased and dying cats in her home.

Deputies responded to Lucienne Touboul's home near Grand Avenue and Center Street Thursday morning and found 104 cats in various stages of health.

According to sheriff's spokesman Jeff Sprong, Touboul threatened to kill deputies if they touched her animals.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the cats were blind or suffering ruptured corneas, had severe respiratory ailments and feline leukemia, and were literally dying in the arms of deputies. He said 10 cats were found frozen in the home refrigerator.

Arpaio said Touboul will likely face numerous felony animal abuse charges but is too old and frail to see the inside of a jail cell. He said he has asked his deputies to work with local agencies to provide her the help she needs, both physically and mentally.

The cats had to be euthanized. Arpaio said that while he does not support euthanasia of animals, the cats' diseases were so pronounced and may have been able to spread to humans that euthanasia was the only alternative.

Arpaio said this is the second time authorities were called to Touboul's home. Three years ago, Arpaio's animal cruelty deputies found 70 cats in her home.

At that time, many were euthanized and others were placed in rescue homes. Deputies worked with a local judge to prevent Touboul from owning any more animals, but she defied the order.