Almost 40 dogs were impounded at a woman’s home as the 54-year-old remains behind bars in Indio Tuesday while seven puppies she’s accused of trying to dump into a recycling bin outside a Coachella auto parts store in scorching heat were reported to be thriving in the aftermath of their rescue.

Deborah Sue Culwell of Coachella was arrested Monday at the end of a three-day search after officers were able were able to secure an arrest warrant, 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, Welsh said.

Animal Services also found 38 dogs at Culwell’s residence, all of which were impounded as officers were “uncertain who would care for the dogs after she was arrested,” Welsh said.

Photos from the scene show several overweight dogs that were poorly taken care of in Culwell’s house with peeling floors and ravaged furniture.

Culwell remained silent when confronted by a reporter outside her home as she was taken into custody.

The seven puppies found in the dumpster, however, 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.

A passerby rummaged through the same dumpster about 15 minutes later and found the bag full of three-day-old live puppies, which 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.

“The good Samaritan played a major role in saving these puppies’ lives,” added Mayer in remarks reported by the Desert Sun. “His actions were humane and heroic.” On the other hand, the conduct of the person who dumped the pups was “despicable.”

“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” Mayer said, according to the Desert Sun. “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.”

Anyone with information about the incident should call Riverside County Animal Services at 951-358-7387.

Culwell, who’s in custody in lieu of $10,000 bail, is scheduled to make her initial court appearance in the case at the Larson Justice Center in Indio Thursday morning.

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