Woman who allegedly ditched puppies in Coachella dumpster arrested

Authorities track down woman who dumped dogs


Coachella, Calif. - The woman caught on camera ditching a bag of puppies in a Coachella dumpster has been identified, and arrested at her Coachella home, News Channel 3 has confirmed. Thirty-eight additional dogs were taken from inside the suspect's home. 

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested by Riverside County Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer at about 5:30 p.m. Monday. According to officials, Culwell is facing up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty. 

Riverside County Animal Services tells News Channel 3 the woman dumped the days-old dogs and left them to die late last week. After News Channel 3 and other media outlets aired the images of the dogs and their attempted illegal disposal, authorities received a number of tips. Now, officials say they have tracked her down.

A Good Samaritan who found the dogs wrapped up outside of an auto parts store tells News Channel 3'a Madison Weil "They were all sweaty and obviously they were all hungry."

The rescuer, who didn't want to give his name, reacted to watching the incident on surveillance camera. "I was kind of in shock to see the way that she threw it...carelessly without emotion like it was just a regular old bag of trash."

See new surveillance video and hear more from the rescuers tonight at 5:00 and 6:00 on News Channel 3.

Seven puppies were found next to a dumpster in Coachella late last week. Authorities say they are looking for the woman caught on camera leaving them.

The woman is accused of leaving the newborn puppies in a plastic bag near a dumpster behind a NAPA Auto Parts store on Thursday afternoon, according to Riverside County Animal Services.

Commander Chris Mayer with animal services said he is building an animal cruelty case against the woman with the help of the Riverside County Sheriff's office and the District Attorney's office.

A passerby discovered the bag, and a store employee then contacted animal services. The puppies were about three days old and believed to be terrier mixes, animal services said.

"If not for the Good Samaritan's actions, the puppies may not have survived much longer," said the Riverside County Animal Services in a release. "The mid-day temperatures in Coachella on Thursday were in the mid-90s range."

Animal Service's veterinary team members cared for the puppies and found a rescue group to accept and bottle feed them, according to the release.

"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."

If you are overwhelmed with pets and need to find a new home for them call (951)358-7387

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