COACHELLA — Animal Services employees continue to care for the 38 dogs impounded late Monday, April 22 that came from the home of a Deborah Sue Culwell, who is accused of cruelty.

Officers impounded the dogs after Commander Chris Mayer arrested Culwell on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. Culwell, 54, was arrested on suspicion of willfully dumping a bag of seven newborn puppies into a trash bin and left to die.

The case has garnered nationwide attention.

Culwell Case Update: 38 Dogs Doing OK

Commander Chris Mayer and one of the 38 impounded dogs.

“This woman’s alleged actions showed total disregard to those seven newborns,” Commander Chris Mayer said in a prepared statement. “The 38 dogs found at her home were not in conditions consistent with responsible pet ownership.”

Earlier on Monday, the commander submitted the case to the Riverside County District Attorney’s office for review.

Culwell was initially being held at the Riverside County Jail in Indio, with bail set at $10,000. She was released on Tuesday, according to jail records. Culwell is scheduled to appear in Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday.

After the arrest, Mayer and his colleagues quickly realized their activity at the Third Street property would take longer than expected. Inside the single-family house were 38 dogs. The dogs were in what appeared to be fair condition, although some had some skin issues and exhibited aggressive or fearful temperaments.

Culwell Case Update: 38 Dogs Doing OK

Supervising Animal Care Technician Marisa Sanabria with one of the 38 dogs

All 38 remain in the care of the staff at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms. As for the seven dumped pups, a woman in San Bernardino County remains diligent in caring for the abandoned animals. She reported Tuesday that the pups are still alive and she is maintaining a rigid nutrition schedule, John Welsh, public information officer for the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Here are a few images and a couple short clips of some of the 38 impounded dogs from the suspected puppy dumper’s home.

“You’ll notice the one dog we tried to walk on a leash appears very skittish,” Welsh said. “Who’s to say why? He was, after all, not used to such freedoms. Living with 37 other dogs in a small home is no picnic, we would presume.”

The puppies were discovered on the afternoon of April 18 by a passerby. Apparently, a man was rummaging through the trash and discovered the clear, plastic bag of pups. He placed the bag near the entrance of a Napa Auto Parts store, and a second man noticed the bag and took it into the store. Employees at Napa helped coordinate a call to Animal Services.

Video surveillance footage provided key evidence that led to the arrest of Culwell.

Culwell Case Update: 38 Dogs Doing OK

Newborn puppies dumped in a trash container to die are doing well.

The puppies were estimated to be about  3 days old. Of the 38 dogs impounded on Monday night, it’s uncertain at this point what dog might be the female that had the litter of pups. That information would need to come from Culwell, Welsh said.

Animal Services is not allowed to transport the mother dog to the home where the seven pups are being nourished. All of the 38 dogs remain in protective custody.

“We’re hopeful Ms. Culwell will relinquish ownership so we can begin the process of re-homing these poor dogs,” Mayer said. “We think that would be the best outcome for these pets. We are also hopeful we will have as much interest in these dogs as we have had for the seven dumped pups.”

Image Sources

  • Commander Chris Mayer and one of the 38 impounded dogs.: Riverside County Department of Animal Services
  • Supervising Animal Care Technician Marisa Sanabria with one of the 38 dogs: Riverside County Department of Animal Services
  • Puppies: YouTube
  • Rescued dog: YouTube