COACHELLA, Calif. - Almost 40 dogs were impounded at a woman's home as the 54-year-old remains behind bars in Indio Tuesday. Seven puppies she's accused of trying to dump near a recycling bin outside a Coachella auto parts store in scorching heat were reported to be thriving in the aftermath of their rescue.
Deborah Sue Culwell of Coachella was arrested Monday at the end of a three-day search after officers were able to secure an arrest warrant, according to John Welsh of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
The following photos of the inside of Culwell's home were released by Riverside County Animal Services.
It was ``a long day for the commander to get all the ducks in a row,'' but once the arrest warrant was signed, Riverside County Department of Animal Services Cmdr. Chris Mayer drove to Culwell's residence and arrested her around 5:30 p.m. on seven suspected felony charges of animal cruelty. She also faces seven misdemeanor charges of animal abanonment.
Animal Services also found 38 dogs at Culwell's residence, all of which were impounded as officers were ``uncertain who would care for the dogs after she was arrested,'' Welsh said.
Seven of the dogs found on the scene were pregnant.
Photos from the scene show several overweight dogs that were poorly taken care of in Culwell's house with peeling floors and ravaged furniture.
The seven puppies found in the dumpster, however, are thriving thanks to the help of a good Samaritan who found the puppies outside Napa Auto Parts at 49251 Grapefruit Blvd. Thursday afternoon, Welsh said.
Surveillance footage of the auto parts store showed a woman with a ponytail in a short skirt exiting a Jeep with a plastic bag just after 1 p.m. Thursday, Welsh said. The woman who has now been identified as Culwell then deposited the sealed bag in a dumpster used for recycling.
A passerby rummaged through the same dumpster about 15 minutes later and found the bag full of three-day-old live puppies, which are believed to be terrier mixes, according to Welsh. The passerby, only identified by the name John, quickly took the puppies into the air-conditioned store.
As the temperatures were well above 90 degrees, it's unlikely the puppies would have survived much longer if John did not find them, Welsh said.
None of the puppies are up for adoption yet but the Coachella Valley Animal Campus did tell us they are a bit overwhelmed by the influx of animals and they are in need of blanket and towel donations. You can call 951-358-7387 for more info on donating or click here.
Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh said the pups have not been reunited with their mother, mainly because that particular dog has not been identified among those seized from the suspect's property. Welsh said the matter is further complicated by the fact that all of the animals are under protective custody,'' making them temporary wards of the county if and until Culwell is legally stripped of ownership.
"We cannot remove a dog from protective custody to nurse,'' Welsh said
Anyone with information about the incident should call Riverside County Animal Services at 951-358-7387.
Culwell who was released from custody Tuesday in lieu of $10,000 bail, is scheduled to make her initial court appearance in the case at the Larson Justice Center in Indio Thursday morning.
More: I-Team investigations
Find us on Facebook: KESQ News Channel 3
Follow us on Twitter for breaking news updates: @KESQ
We’re on Instagram! @KESQ_News_Channel_3
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15