What to Know
- Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, is accused of leaving puppies in a bin outside a Napa Auto Parts in Coachella on April 18.
- Security video from the auto parts store allegedly shows the suspect throw a plastic bag full of puppies in a dumpster.
- Forty other puppies found at the suspect's home were adopted, the shelter said.
A local nonprofit donated thousands of dollars to rescue groups that stepped up to help animal services workers with dozens of dogs taken from a woman suspected of dumping a litter of puppies in a Coachella dumpster, Riverside County Animal Services announced Monday.
The Animal Solutions Konnection foundation donated $4,400 to groups that took in dogs belonging to Deborah Sue Culwell, who was arrested after she was allegedly captured on video surveillance footage tossing a clear bag -- which a passerby discovered had seven live puppies inside it -- into a dumpster at an auto parts store.
In addition to the seven puppies, an additional 38 dogs were found to be living at Culwell's home.
She's currently in custody, facing charges of felony animal cruelty.
The puppies were all placed in a foster home -- though one died shortly after -- and the other 38 dogs were impounded, according to Riverside County Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.
Within days, all of the 38 were transferred to various rescue organizations connected with the county.
The owners of the NAPA Auto Parts store where the seven puppies were dumped held a fundraiser afterward "because so many people wanted to help and make donations," Welsh said.
Cameron Uzelman, co-owner of four Coachella Valley-based NAPA stores, said that the fundraising day was done in order to create an outlet for local residents who wanted to help.
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"We were truly moved by these pups and we were already getting donations, so we thought we would add to the kindness we experienced from some of our customers," Uzelman said. "We're glad we could help."
About $2,700 from NAPA's fundraiser was donated to the Animal Solutions Konnection foundation, in turn donated that money and an additional $1,700 to rescue groups.
NAPA also donated pet supplies to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms after the fundraiser, Welsh said.
Foundation President Carolyn Badger said ASK contributed the additional money to provide each organization that helped with a gift of $100 per dog that was transferred to each respective group.
The foundation also donated $600 to the woman who is fostering the dumped puppies.
Though some of the 38 dogs taken from Culwell's home are already in new homes, there's no word on whether any of the dumped puppies have been adopted.
The foster parent told Animal Services that she planned to make the adoptions very low profile and wanted to avoid sharing the puppies' back story because she wanted the adopters to give them homes for the right reasons, Welsh said.
"We believed it was the right thing to do to assist this kind woman," Badger said. "She's been the hero for these pups for all these weeks. It's also very expensive -- not to mention time-consuming -- to care for pups from the time they are barely a few days old. She's been amazing."