Woman Accused of Dumping Puppies in Viral Video Allegedly Had 38 Dogs In Her House

Steve Helling
Woman Accused of Dumping Puppies in Viral Video Allegedly Had 38 Dogs In Her House

The California woman who was allegedly captured on surveillance camera disposing of a bag full of puppies had 38 dogs in her Coachella home, authorities say.

On late Monday afternoon, Riverside County Animal Services arrested Deborah Sue Culwell, 55, at her home in Coachella, RCAS Senior Public Information Specialist John Welsh confirms to PEOPLE.

While they were in her home, authorities allegedly found the other dogs.

“We were uncertain who would care for the dogs after she was arrested,” RCAS told PEOPLE in an email, “so we were forced to impound all 38.”

The dogs were in what appeared to be fair condition, although some had some skin issues and exhibited aggressive or fearful temperaments, Animal Services says. They are currently being cared for at a shelter in Thousand Palms.

“This woman’s alleged actions showed total disregard to those seven newborns,” Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer said in a statement. “The 38 dogs found at her home were not in conditions consistent with responsible pet ownership.”

RELATED: Woman Caught on Video Tossing Plastic Bag Full of Puppies Near Dumpster

Meanwhile, the puppies who were found in the dumpster are “doing well” and with a fosterer in the Inland Empire who can properly care for and bottle-feed them. In a new video shared by RCAS, they are seen happily snuggling together.

Culwell is currently being held at a jail in Coachella Valley, Welsh says. At this time, it is unclear why Culwell allegedly tossed the bag of puppies into the dumpster and what specific charges she faces.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Culwell has retained a lawyer.

Welsh tells PEOPLE that he believes that Culwell will receive multiple charges for animal cruelty, which he says could result in 2-6 years in prison with a possibility of $20,000 in fines.

“We do feel strongly that this rises to a felony of animal cruelty and when we submit our case to the District Attorney’s office, we do believe we’ll be successful in pursuing seven counts of animal cruelty,” he explains.

According to a Facebook post by Riverside County Animal Services, the woman, who authorities now believe is Culwell, dumped the puppies at about 1 p.m. last Thursday behind a Napa Auto Parts store in Coachella.

Soon after, a passerby rummaged through the trash, found the bag and brought it into the store. An employee at the store then contacted Animal Services, and authorities learned the bag contained seven puppies.

Riverside County Animal Services

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The puppies were about three days old and are believed to be terrier mixes, according to the Facebook post.

“If not for the Good Samaritan’s actions, the puppies may not have survived much longer,” the post stated. “The mid-day temperatures in Coachella on Thursday were in the mid-90s range.”

“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” the post continued. “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.”

A woman dumping puppies by the dumpster | Department of Animal Services, County of Riverside, California

RELATED: 7 Puppies Rescued After Woman Tosses Them in Plastic Bag Next to Trash Bin in Coachella

In the email, the RCAS says that the seven puppies are not yet back with their mother.

“We have all of Ms. Culwell’s dogs in protective custody,” the RCAS states. “She is still the rightful owner of all the dogs. We cannot remove a dog from protective custody to nurse. Plus, we do not know what dog is the mother. Several of the 38 dogs impounded appeared to have possibly had recent litters.”

Authorities say they will continue to investigate the case.