A Niagara Falls woman accused of housing hundreds of rabbits and dozens of cats in conditions described as deplorable, has been found competent to face criminal charges.

Diane Lauzon was also released from custody after just over a month in jail while undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.

Lauzon made an obscene gesture to news photographers as she left court.

Where she will be staying is unclear, because demolition crews reduced the three Ashland Avenue homes she owned to rubble.

A State Supreme Court Justice ordered the demolition after Falls’ city lawyers told him the homes housed “squalor of almost biblical proportions.”

During her City Court hearing on Tuesday, Assistant Corporation Counsel Christopher Mazur served Lauzon with a letter from the city’s Inspections Department, notifying her that she will have to reimburse the Falls for the $53,900 bill for the demolition. The demolition bill will be added to Lauzon’s property tax bill and if it isn’t paid, the city could move to foreclose on and seize her now vacant parcels of property.

Lauzon will return to City Court on Nov. 13 for a pre-trial hearing on animal cruelty charges. She may also face an attempt, at that time, by the SPCA to force her to either help pay for the care her surviving animals are receiving or else give up her ownership of almost 100 rabbits.

“We have 96 rabbits and their care is costing us $200 a week,” SPCA Executive Director Al Chille told Chief City Court Judge Mark Violante. “We would like the court to order (Lauzon) to post a bond to cover the care of the animals or, if there is no bond within five days, give us permission to dispose of the animals.”

Chille said on Friday he would like to see if he could get a farmer to take the rabbits. He said it would be unlikely that any of the rabbits could be put up for adoption by the public.

“I’m not confident enough in (the rabbits’) health to adopt them out,” Chille said.

Lauzon’s court-appointed lawyer, Lawrence Stuart, said his client “has no means to post a bond.” He also said Lauzon would object to any plan to “to dispose of the rabbits without a hearing on the legality of their seizure.”

Violante rejected Chille’s verbal request for the bond, telling the SPCA director to have his lawyers file court papers for a hearing on the request.

“I was trying to push the issue, to see if she would give (the rabbits) up,” Chille said outside of court. “We’ll immediately file the paperwork to get this done.”

Police responded to Lauzon’s homes at 676, 6761/2 and 678 Ashland Ave., on Aug. 30 after reports of “neighbor trouble” there. When they arrived they found the three homes were filled with filth, along with almost 150 rabbits and an estimated 30 to 40 cats.

After finding the large number of rabbits and cats, many of them living in cages packed so full of feces that they couldn’t move, cops took Lauzon into custody on animal cruelty charges. She had been jailed since then, pending the psychiatric evaluation.

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