Inside squalid Florida home of hoarder accused of abusing 30 cats in ‘unlivable’ environment

Florida police have arrested a woman on nearly 30 charges of animal cruelty after responding to reports of animal neglect and hoarding.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office found the home of Catherine Briley, 66, in disarray on Wednesday with more than 30 animals roaming free. Toxic ammonia levels were also discovered at the home in Lakeland.

After entering her residence with respirators on, authorities found five dead cats, 27 live cats and one dog. The cats, which were found dead in a closet, likely died of starvation, officials said.

Catherine Briley’s home, pictured on 17 April, had toxic levels of ammonia (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

“The home, inside and out, is also what I would call unlivable,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.

“It is our hope these animals will be rehabilitated and able to be adopted out to loving homes, and that this suspect is no longer allowed to own animals.”

Ms Briley was released from Polk County Jail on Sunday after posting bond.

A booking photo of Catherine Briley, who was arrested last week on several animal abuse charges (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Police said they recorded toxic levels of ammonia and hydride, an industrial chemical, in Ms Briley’s home.

As a result, the pets could not breathe fresh air and several litter boxes for cats were overflowing. The dog found on the scene was in especially poor condition.

“The dog inside the house had trouble walking or standing and had very long, grossly overgrown toenails that were curled,” Sheriff Judd said. “The dog was missing a large amount of fur and appeared to be suffering from a skin condition.”

Police say they found an emaciated dog in Catherine Briley’s home, along with 27 cats (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

The woman was previously known to local law enforcement, Sheriff Judd said. In 1998, she was arrested on two battery charges, and in 2001, she was arrested on another, separate battery charge. Last year, she was charged with giving authorities false information on a missing person as well as resisting arrest.

In addition to the animals and toxic air, police saw “thousands of swarming flies throughout the property” on piles of garbage.

“There were also buckets and other containers filled with dirty water that contained larvae,” the affidavit said.

Police say they found overflowing litter boxes, pictured, in Catherine Briley’s home (Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

Ms Briley’s case marks the third time since December that Polk County officials have identified a woman hoarding animals “to the point where they are being neglected and suffering from illnesses,” according to Sheriff Judd.

Earlier this year, Washington, DC Metropolitan Police had a 12-hour-long stand-off with a gunman after serving a warrant for animal cruelty.

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