Nearly 40 dogs had to be removed from the home of a woman accused of dumping seven newborn puppies in a Coachella dumpster amid 90-degree heat, authorities said Tuesday. The 38 confiscated dogs were living in a "state of disrepair" Riverside County Animal Services said.
Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested Monday afternoon and faces seven counts of felony animal abuse after she was spotted on surveillance cameras allegedly shoving seven newborn puppies into a plastic bag and throwing them into a dumpster behind an auto-parts store in Coachella amid 90-degree heat. Investigators were able to identify the woman using the license plate number on her Jeep, which was also seen on the surveillance video.
"You can clearly see the bag of puppies being dumped into the dumpster," said John Welsh, the chief of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. "There's clearly not a level of intelligence that's going to be used if you're going to toss animals."
Authorities said the 3-day-old puppies would not have been able to survive the 90-degree heat, had they not been found by a homeless man rummaging through the trash a few minutes later.
A local rescue organization has taken charge of the seven puppies.
Animal control officers had to work into the night on Monday because Culwell's home had been "overrun with other dogs" officials said. In total, 38 dogs had to be removed from the woman's Coachella residence. The animals were taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms.
Riverside County Animal Services released several photos from inside Culwell's home. Several overweight dogs were seen in the photos living amid peeling floors and furniture that had been destroyed in Culwell's house.
Anyone with information about the incident should call Riverside County Animal Services at 951-358-7387.
Photo: Riverside County Sheriff's Department