A woman has been arrested on suspicion of dumping a bag of newborn puppies in a rubbish bin in 90F heat.
54-year-old Deborah Sue Culwell was arrested by Commander Chris Mayer, from the Riverside County Animal Services, yesterday (April 22) at her home in Coachella.
Officials from the department confirmed in a press release Culwell is facing up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty.
Surveillance footage captured the suspect dumping a bag of puppies in a dumpster behind an auto parts store in Coachella at approximately 1pm on Thursday (April 18).
In the video shared by the Riverside County Animal Services, the woman can be seen getting back into her white Jeep and driving away, abandoning the newborns in the heat.
After spotting the bag the woman had left behind next to the dumpster, a passerby named John alerted the store which then called the authorities.
Officer Jose Cisneros arrived at the scene shortly before 2pm, collecting the seven puppies which were all approximately three days old and believed to be terrier mixes.
Calling the Riverside County Animal Services, a veterinary team from the department cared for the puppies before handing the over to MeoowzResQ, an organisation which specialises in rescuing and fostering animals.
In the press release, Commander Mayer criticised the woman’s actions and also praised the passerby as if it were not for his actions, the puppies may not have survived.
The Good Samaritan played a major role in saving theses puppies’ lives. His actions were humane and heroic.
There is no excuse for dumping puppies. 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.
Mayer added him and his colleagues are already in communication with Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators and the District Attorney’s office about the case.
Speaking to NBC about the case, John Welsh, the chief of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, said:
You can clearly see the bag of puppies being dumped into the dumpster. There’s clearly not a level of intelligence that’s going to be used if you’re going to toss animals.
If the woman is convicted on all counts, she could be jailed for a maximum of six years.
The hope is to put the puppies up for adoption soon.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.