COACHELLA – A 54-year-old Coachella woman was arrested Monday afternoon, April 22, in connection with dumping seven newborn puppies into a trash bin last week.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, of Coachella was arrested at her Coachella home about 5:30 Monday. Culwell is facing up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty.

Riverside County Animal Services Commander Chris Mayer arrested the Coachella woman.

As of 6:45 p.m. Monday Animal Services personnel were still on scene at the property because the woman’s home contained roughly 30 dogs, according to John Welsh, public information officer for the department.

“We needed to impound those animals to make sure they were properly fed and cared for at our shelter in Thousand Palms,” Welsh said.

Below is a video clip of the arrest this afternoon of the Coachella woman who is suspected of felony animal cruelty.

Commander Mayer handled the arrest and a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputy handled the transport of the suspect.

The Coachella woman is accused of dumping a bag of seven, newborn puppies behind Napa Auto Parts on Thursday, April 18. An employee with a Napa Auto Parts store contacted Riverside County Animal Services after a passerby discovered the bag next to a Dumpster. The store is located at 49251 Grapefruit Blvd.

Officer Jose Cisneros responded shortly before 2 p.m. and collected a trash bag, which contained the puppies, according to John Welsh, public information officer for the Animal Services Department. All of the pups were approximately 3 days old and were believed to be terrier mixes.

Animal Services’ veterinary team members cared for the puppies and identified a rescue group partner organization to take over bottle-feeding duties. MeoowzResQ, a Southern California-based organization specializing in kitten and cat rescue and fostering, agreed to accept the pups, according to Welsh.

Coachella Woman, 54, Arrested in Puppy Dump

Woman suspected of dumping puppies in Dumpster.

Just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, the now-identified Coachella woman in a Jeep pulled up, exited the vehicle carrying a plastic bag in one of her hands and walked toward a Dumpster used for recycling materials. She shut the recycling Dumpster and dropped the clear, plastic bag next in a trash Dumpster and drove away.

Shortly afterward, a passerby, named John, rummaged through the trash, noticed the bag, and brought it into the Napa store. If not for the Good Samaritan’s actions, the puppies may not have survived much longer. The mid-day temperatures in Coachella on Thursday were in the mid-90s range, Welsh said.

The Good Samaritan played a major role in saving these puppies’ lives,” Commander Chris Mayer said in a prepared statement. “His actions were humane and heroic.”

He said the woman’s actions are despicable and he and his colleagues are already communicating with Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators and the District Attorney’s office in building a strong cruelty case.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Image Sources

  • Alleged puppies dumper: Riverside County Department of Animal Services
  • Puppies: YouTube