Woman With 38 Cats Charged With Animal Cruelty

Her rural Virginia residence also housed 58 dogs, in addition to her husband and 12-year-old son.

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A woman in the rural town of Suffolk, Virginia was charged with animal cruelty and had her home condemned after 96 cats and dogs were found living at the house.

Francine Cochran, 41, was charged on Wednesday, May 10, after she was found living with 38 cats and 58 dogs at her house, where her husband and 12-year-old son also live.

A team of police officers, animal control officers and firefighters cleared the Cochrans' home of most its animals Monday after an animal control officer discovered the situation s while searching for a lost pet in the area.

Cochran was allowed to keep five dogs and five cats, but the city condemned the home for sanitary reasons, and police took 86 of the animals to a shelter for examination by a veterinarian.

A majority of the dogs were euthanized because of their poor health, said Brandon Wichman, the vet who evaluated the animals.

Cochran faces up to 12 months in jail for each of the animal cruelty charges. Police also filed 10 counts of not having updated rabies shots for the cats and 10 counts of not having a license for the dogs, according to Susan Walton, the prosecutor handling the case. Those charges don't carry jail time but can result in fines, she said.

Cochran told authorities that she began bringing stray dogs into her home about 12 years ago to save them and find new homes for them. The burden of caring for the animals began to overwhelm her six years ago when she was badly injured in an accident, she said.

Posted: May 11, 2006, 5:00 a.m. EST

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