COACHELLA, Calif.- - Bail has been raised for a woman accused of throwing away a bag full of puppies in a Coachella dumpster in April.
Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, is charged with seven counts of felony animal cruelty and seven counts of misdemeanor animal abandonment. She appeared at the Larson Justice Center in Indio Thursday morning, and was taken into custody after the decision was made to raise her bail to $50,000.
Culwell's bail was initially set at $10,000. Earlier in June, Culwell entered a not guilty plea.
Seven animal rights activists were seen outside court for Culwell's appearance today. While arguing against a bail increase, Culwell's attorney argued that "puppies are not people."
"I couldn't believe that," said Katie Phillips, the VP of of S.O.A.R. an animal rescue group. "Puppies are not people. They are living beings. I loved when the entire audience gasped. The gall to say that about these precious creatures of the earth."
Two of the pups found in Culwell's home now live with Phillips as she nurses them back to full health and eventually adoption into a forever home.
"Well I think from the day they were born the were probably isolated and kept away from humans," said Phillips. "So they don’t even know what human touch is all about, it’s not a good thing, it’s a scary thing.”
Attorney Joe Cavanuagh who is defending Culwell, responded to criticism about his statement in court.
"I understand I mean the statement was taken out of context," said Cavanaugh "On the surface yes it's a callous statement and its not to say I don’t care for animals I’m actually a dog lover myself. The issue was just trying to make the distinction between how the law looks at an animal versus the law looking at a person.”
In April, Culwell was allegedly caught on camera pulling up in a white Jeep Wrangler to this back of the Napa Auto Parts store located at 49251 Grapefruit Boulevard in Coachella, stepping out, and throwing a nondescript bag into a nearby recycling dumpster. She was arrested the next week.
After Culwell's initial arrest, an additional 38 dogs were found living in squalid conditions in her home. She later relinquished ownership of all the animals.
One of the seven puppies thrown away in the dumpster later died.
More: I-Team investigations
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