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Woman arrested for dumping bag of puppies behind auto store in Coachella, California

30 additional dogs found at the home of Deborah Sue Culwell, 54

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested Monday on suspicion that she dumped a bag of puppies behind an auto parts store in Coachella, California last week. (Riverside County Animal Services)

A woman who was caught on camera dumping a bag of puppies behind an auto parts store in Coachella, California last week has been taken into custody, according to authorities.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested Monday at her Coachella home. She is facing seven counts of felony animal cruelty.

According to the Riverside County Animal Services, the seven puppies that Culwell is suspected of dumping are now being cared for.

Authorities said Culwell's home contained about 30 additional dogs that needed to be impounded at a shelter.

PREVIOUS STORY: Video shows woman dumping bag of puppies behind auto store in Coachella, California

It was about 2 p.m. Thursday when officers responded to a Napa Auto Parts store where a passerby had discovered a bag of puppies next to a dumpster.

There were seven puppies in total that were about three days old and appeared to be terrier mixes, according to the Riverside County Animal Services. MeoowzResQ, a Southern California-based organization specializing in kitten and cat rescue and fostering, agreed to accept the pups.

Investigators reviewed video from the auto store's security cameras, which showed a woman, later identified as Culwell, pulling up in a white Jeep about 1 p.m. and dumping a clear plastic bag beside a dumpster. The bag contained the seven puppies, according to police.

Investigators said that shortly afterward, a passerby rummaging through the trash discovered the puppies and brought them into the store. 

“The good Samaritan played a major role in saving theses puppies’ lives,” Commander Chris Mayer said. “His actions were humane and heroic.”

According to the Riverside County Animal Services, temperatures on Thursday afternoon were in the mid-90s.

“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” Mayer said. “Especially in today’s age when we or other shelters would be willing to get these animals to foster parents or rescue partners. This was a shameful act.”


About the Author:

Brian Newlin

Brian is an Associate Producer for ClickOnDetroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in Journalism and Screen Studies.