The shocking discovery was made on Saturday after the woman’s neighbours in the town of Bessan, near Beziers, called in paramedics after becoming concerned about the deteriorating state of the 54-year-old's health, French newspaper Midi Libre reported.
On entering the flat they found a total of 87 dogs alive in the property, in various states of health as well as the rotting dead bodies of “20 to 30” other dogs. Some animal cadavers were also discovered in the freezer.
Despite having to put up with constant barking all day long neighbours were left in shock at the discovery of so many animals.
“We knew she had dogs but not as many as this,” said one neighbour. “I never would have believed that there were 87 living there.”
Those living nearby reported that the air around the property had smelled foul for years but they just presumed it was a water retention tank, stationed not far from the house.
However one neighbour said the stench was so bad that they had to install an air conditioning system to keep the odour away. “There were even dead rats in my pool,” he said.
Neighbours said they had called out social services on a number of occasions but were told no one was allowed to enter the property without the owner's consent.
The disturbing existence of the woman was only revealed at the weekend after neighbours had become concerned , saying that the woman showed signs of serious malnourishment.
“She needed food for her dogs and for her,” neighbour Paulette Bourdelois told Midi Libre.”So I took her some food but did not go into the house.”
The following day however the woman asked the neighbours to put her in contact with a friend and went round to her house.
“As soon as the door opened, I called the emergency services,” he said.
Authorities are now investigating how the woman managed to remain under their radar for so long.
“An investigation has been opened and assigned to the Gendarmerie in Pézenas,” the prosecutor of Beziers Patrick Mathé said.
The surviving dogs were taken away to a local animal rescue centre. The 54-year-old woman was being treated in a local hospital for “multiple injuries”, Midi Libre reported.