A three-day hunt for a woman who allegedly dumped a sealed plastic bag full of puppies in a recycling bin outside of a Coachella auto parts store in the scorching heat ended Monday with an arrest at the 54-year-old woman’s home.
Officers were able to secure an arrest warrant for Deborah Sue Culwell of Coachella around 4 p.m., 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 charges, Welsh said.
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.
The relatively normal action took a morbid turn when a passerby rummaged through the same dumpster about 15 minutes later to find the bag full of three-day-old live puppies that 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.