WITTMANN, AZ - A total of 104 cats rounded up at a home in the West Valley Thursday will have to be euthanized, according to authorities.
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies said they responded to the home in Wittmann, west of Surprise, where they found the felines, all diseased and dying.
MCSO spokeswoman Lisa Allen said 10 of the cats were found dead in a freezer at the home.
Authorities said Lucienne Touboul, 80, was hoarding the cats and threatened to kill deputies if they touched her animals.
A veterinarian with the Arizona Humane Society was called to the scene to help deputies and euthanize the cats. The animals were said to be carrying a disease that can be transferred to humans.
"You go in, the smell of ammonia is overwhelming. Most of the litter boxes there's no litter, it's paper so the smell of feces, urine is overpowering," said Nancy Bradley with the Arizona Humane Society.
According to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, this is not the first time deputies have been at the home. He said three years ago, deputies found 70 cats in Touboul's home and many of those had to be euthanized, while others were placed into rescue homes.
Arpaio said that at the time deputies worked with a local judge to prevent the woman from owning any more animals, but she defied the order.
The sheriff said while he doesn't support euthanasia of animals, in this case their diseases were so pronounced that euthanasia was the only alternative.
Authorities said Touboul will likely face numerous animal abuse charges. Arpaio said she will not likely be jailed due to her age and frail condition but will get help from deputies and local agencies to provide her with the help she needs both physically and mentally.
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