COACHELLA, Calif. — Authorities on Monday confirmed the arrest of a 54-year-old woman accused of dumping seven newborn puppies into a Coachella dumpster.
The suspect was identified as Deborah Sue Culwell. She was arrested Monday by Riverside County Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer at her Coachella home. Culwell is facing up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty, officials said. Her home contained roughly 30 dogs that needed to be impounded to make sure they were properly fed and cared for at a shelter in Thousand Palms, according to John Welsh of Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
The woman was seen stepping out of a white Jeep, peering into a dumpster used for recyclables, then dropping the bag filled with the puppies into a pile of trash behind Napa Auto Parts in CoachellaThursday before driving away.
A man who rummaged through the dumpster shortly afterward spotted the bag and took it to the store, an act officials say saved the puppies lives.
“The good Samaritan played a major role in saving theses puppies’ lives,” Riverside County Animal Service Commander Chris Mayer said. “His actions were humane and heroic.”
The man left the bag outside the auto parts store where somebody could find the puppies — and a customer did.
“I noticed the bag on the floor, and they were tied up in the bag, so I immediately opened the bag a little further and I proceeded to call animal services to see what I could do with them because I couldn’t leave them there,” said the customer, who didn’t want to be identified.
Authorities said the puppies, believed to be 3-day-old terrier mixes, may not have survived the 90-degree heat had they not been found within an hour of being dumped.
Riverside County Animal Service is working with Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators and the District Attorney’s office in building a cruelty case against the woman accused of discarding them.