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French couple who adopted 160 cats and lived in squalor banned from ever owning pets again

French couple who adopted 160 cats and lived in squalor banned from ever owning pets again

A French couple has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence and permanently banned from keeping pets after over 100 dehydrated and malnourished cats and dogs were found in their apartment.

The woman, 68, and a 52-year-old man were also asked to pay more than €150,000 (£129,000) in damages to animal welfare associations.

A total of 159 cats and seven dogs have been recovered from the couple’s 80sqm-apartment in Nice.

Police officers found the apartment crowded with pets in unhygienic conditions in 2023 after a neighbourhood dispute call. The rooms had dozens of dehydrated and malnourished cats and dogs covered in parasites and lesions, along with carcasses of dead animals.

At least two cats and two puppies were found dead in a bathroom by the investigators.

The couple is “guilty of the offence of abandonment, given the very poor state of health” of all the pet cats and dogs, the Nice Criminal Court ruled on Wednesday, according to AFP.

The woman fought for the custody of the animals at the end of the trial and said: “It’s like telling a woman she won’t have any more children”.

“Who wouldn’t appeal against an injustice like this? They were the loves of my life but things have gone off track,” she told the court, stating that she has no intention of “giving up”.

The woman claimed that the condition of her animals and the apartment was temporary.

The BBC reported that a psychiatric assessment had diagnosed her with the “Noah syndrome” – a condition involving animal hoarding in which a person has an urge to keep a higher-than-usual number of animals even if they do not have the ability to offer hygienic and humane conditions for their upkeep.

The couple is also facing another investigation from 2014 where they were housing 13 cats and a dog in an 18sqm studio. As of 2023, the woman and her partner were in rental debt of €8,000 (£6,855) and also eviction proceedings.