Officials are seeking the public's help in identifying a woman who was captured on surveillance video tossing a bag of days old puppies into a dumpster behind an auto parts shop in Coachella on Thursday.
The woman pulled up in a Jeep behind the Napa Auto Parts at 49251 Grapefruit Blvd. shortly after 1 p.m. and was seen getting out of the vehicle with a clear plastic bag in one hand, the Riverside County Department of Animal Services said in a news release.
She then walked over to the store's dumpsters, peering in one used for recyclables before quickly pitching the bag full of pups into trash destined for a landfill and driving away, the video the agency released Friday shows.
A passerby named John who rummaged through the garbage a short time later spotted the bag and took it into the Napa store. Luckily, he had made the discovery within an hour because temperatures were in the mid-90s that afternoon in Coachella, and the puppies may not have survived much longer, officials said.
Animal Services Cmdr. Chris Mayer called the incident despicable and said authorities intend to prosecute the case to the full extent. Animals Services officials are working with sheriff's investigators and the district attorney's office, which they said is building a strong cruelty case.
“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” Mayer said in a statement. “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.”
An officer responded to the auto parts store just before 2 p.m. and recovered the trash bag, which had seven puppies inside. Officials estimate they're about 3 days old and said they appear to be terrier mixes.
Animal Services veterinarians cared for the pups before relaying bottle-feeding duties to one of the rescue organizations the agency partners with.
MeoowzResQ, an Orange County nonprofit that specializes in feline rescue and fostering, has agreed to take in the puppies, officials said.
Anyone with information on the woman wanted in the case can call the Department of Animal Services at 951-358-7387.