A few dogs rescued from the home of a Coachella woman accused of throwing seven puppies into a dumpster in a sealed plastic bag soon will be available for adoption, officials announced on Monday.
Besides those seven puppies, nearly 40 dogs impounded from Deborah Sue Culwell's residence were officially relinquished Friday, making them eligible for adoption, according to Riverside County Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh. A few of those dogs could be ready for adoption as soon as this week, while some others with behavior issues will be transferred to rescue organizations.
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Culwell, 54, was arrested April 22 on suspicion of felony animal cruelty and posted a $10,000 bond Tuesday, after which she was released from the Indio Jail. She is suspected of trashing days-old terrier mixes in a dumpster behind a Napa Auto Parts store at 49251 Grapefruit Blvd. on April 18. After she was taken into custody, animal control officers seized 38 other canines from Culwell's Third Street residence.
Six of the weeks-old puppies dumped in the trash were saved, and they are building their strength at a foster home before being prepared for adoption in a couple of months. The seventh pup, which was the runt of the litter, did not survive.
The other impounded dogs are currently being cared for at the county's Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, where they will be neutered and spayed before adoption.
Before Friday, all of the dogs still legally belonged to Culwell, making them ineligible for adoption.
Security surveillance video from the auto parts store showed a woman with a ponytail and wearing a short skirt exiting a Jeep with a plastic bag just after 1 p.m. April 18, depositing the sealed bag in the bin, according to authorities. The suspect was ultimately identified as Culwell, Welsh said.
A passerby rummaged through the bin about 15 minutes later and found a bag full of squealing puppies, which he quickly took into the air-conditioned store. As the mercury climbed above 90 degrees, Welsh said he doubted the newborns would have survived very long without the intercession, described by an animal control officer as "heroic."
The surviving puppies have not been reunited with their mother, and it is unclear which dog gave birth to the puppies since several females seized from Culwell's property recently had litters. Culwell also said the pups were from two separate litters, according to Welsh.
The Department of Animal Services has submitted a request to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office for seven animal cruelty charges to be filed against Culwell. If convicted, she could face up to six years in jail.