FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A South Florida woman believed to be behind a disturbing case of animal hoarding faced a judge Wednesday morning.
Michelline Toulouse, 36, is charged with criminal mischief and petit theft for allegedly stealing from Saving Sage Rescue, the group she was supposed to be helping.
“We had to let her go,” said Saving Sage Animal Rescue President Gina Vlasek. “That was before we discovered what was going on in the house.”
When another worker from the rescue decided to check on Toulouse at her Sunrise apartment, they were astonished at what they found.
“She had every opportunity not to do this to the animals that she claimed that she loved,” Vlasek said. “This isn’t love, this is selfish.”
Inside were more than 50 cats, starving and walking around in their own waste, and at least 10 more were already dead.
Toulouse was nowhere to be found and has yet to be charged with anything related to the animals.
She was arrested on Tuesday, along with her boyfriend, for the allegations of stealing from the rescue.
Surveillance video from inside Saving Sage Rescue shows Toulouse taking money out of a drawer in the office. Another clip shows her boyfriend, Jerome Vaughn Jr., also stealing from the rescue.
The judge gave her pretrial release, and she was released from jail Wednesday afternoon. Her boyfriend bonded out earlier in the day.
It’s unclear if or when Toulouse may face charges for the cat hoarding situation.