Coachella woman arrested after allegedly tossing bag of 7 live puppies into dumpster

Alex Lasker
Coachella woman arrested after allegedly tossing bag of 7 live puppies into dumpster

A woman allegedly caught on camera tossing seven live puppies into a Coachella, Calif., dumpster last week has been arrested.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was taken into custody Monday by Commander Chris Mayer of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services (RCDAS) after harrowing footage of the incident went viral over the weekend, according to a statement.

CNN reports that 38 dogs, which were "not in great condition" nor friendly, were found living in Culwell's home at the time of her arrest.

RCDAS spokesperson John Welsh said Culwell may face up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty.

The suspect was allegedly videotaped pulling up in a white Jeep near some large trash receptacles behind a Napa Auto Parts store around 1 p.m. on Thursday. She was seen exiting the car and tossing a white plastic bag into one of the bins.

A concerned passerby who witnessed the incident fished out the bag and brought the 3-day-old puppies into the auto parts store. An employee called RCDAS and officer Jose Cisneros responded to retrieve the pups — believed to be terrier mixes — around 2 p.m. All of the newborns miraculously survived.

Officials believe the pups would likely not have survived much longer in the mid-90-degree weather if the passerby, identified only as John, had not intervened. 

"The Good Samaritan played a major role in saving [the] puppies’ lives," Commander Mayer said. "His actions were humane and heroic."

Mayer also condemned Culwell's alleged behavior as "despicable."

"There is no excuse for dumping puppies," he 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."