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Coachella Woman Suspected of Dumping Live Puppies Is Behind Bars

Screenshot KTLA 5 Los Angeles

INDIO (CNS) - A 54-year-old woman was behind bars in Indio today while the seven puppies she's accused of trying to dump into 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 were able to secure an arrest warrant, according to John Welsh of the Riverside County  Department of 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 and abandonment, Welsh said.

Credit Screenshot KTLA 5 Los Angeles
Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, is taken into custody at her home by Riverside County Animal Services officers after an investigation identified her as the suspect caught on video surveillance dumping a bag of live puppies into a trash bin outside of a local auto parts store.

Culwell remained silent when confronted by a reporter outside her home as she was taken into custody.
   All the puppies 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.
   ``The good Samaritan played a major role in saving these puppies'
lives,'' added Mayer in remarks reported by the Desert Sun. ``His actions were
humane and heroic.'' On the other hand, the conduct of the person who dumped
the pups was ``despicable.''
   ``There is no excuse for dumping puppies,'' Mayer said, according to
the Desert Sun. ``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.''
   Anyone with information about the incident should call Riverside
County Animal Services at 951-358-7387.
   Culwell, who's in custody 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.