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Law Enforcement

Coachella Woman Suspected of Dumping Live Puppies Is Behind Bars

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Screenshot KTLA 5 Los Angeles
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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.

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Credit Screenshot KTLA 5 Los Angeles
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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.