A Queens woman kept 55 cats, 12 dogs, and 2 turtles in a feces- and fur-filled home, the Queens District Attorney's office announced yesterday—but her lawyer insists she wasn't hoarding and that she had rescued the animals off the street, in order to nurse them back to health.

According to the DA, the unsanitary menagerie was only discovered when a police officer stopped by the Jackson Heights home to visit Elizabeth Grant's mother, who'd been the victim of an unrelated crime. No one answered the door when the officer knocked, but it was unlocked, and the officer opened it to see dozens of animals, many emaciated, in a filthy home with a peeling and rotting ceiling, according to the DA. Several weeks later, police returned with members of the ASPCA, who rescued the 69 animals and identified Grant, 48, as their owner.

Nearly all of the animals appeared emaciated, the DA said, and many were suffering from dental diseases, ear mites, and respiratory infections. Only two of the animals, both cats, were in good health. A number of the animals were allegedly missing patches of fur, and one cat wasn't able to walk. One dog, named Bond, was covered with excrement, had a kidney infection, and had lost several rotted teeth, according to the DA. Another, named Dorothy, was allegedly so afflicted with kidney, liver, and digestive diseases that she had to be put down.

"The smell of ammonia was so overwhelming, animal rescue workers had to wear respirators to breathe, as well as protective clothing when entering the premises," DA Richard Brown said.

The DA charged Grant with aggravated cruelty to animals; overdriving, torturing, and injuring animals; and failure to provide sustenance. But Grant isn't taking the charges lying down: she is in turn suing Brown, the NYPD, and the ASPCA, arguing that they deprived her of her constitutional right to petition the government for the return of her animals.

According to her lawyer, "The Dog Lawyer" Richard Rosenthal, Grant wasn't mistreating the animals, but rather was taking them in off the street and attempting to nurse them back to health. Rosenthal said that she began doing so around last February, after the death of her father.

"In order to deal with her grief she became more focused on trying to save lives," Rosenthal said. "The DA by this prosecution is sending a horrible message of basically saying if you see an animal on the street in distress, keep walking, because if you stop and feed it or try and take care of it we're gonna arrest you for a felony for whatever happened before you ever met the animal."

According to the Daily News, Grant and her 75-year-old mother shared a room in their three-bedroom home to give the animals more space, and spent $350 each week feeding them.

"All I was doing was helping the community, taking care of sick and abandoned animals," Grant told the tabloid. "No one was unhealthy. Everyone was taken care of."

An ASPCA spokesperson said that "the ASPCA provided full medical and daily care for all of the animals seized from Elizabeth Grant. Our concern is with their continued health and well-being, which is why the ASPCA is dedicated to providing any care necessary for as long as they need it."

Grant faces up to two years in prison if convicted, according to the DA. She'll return to court on May 10th.