Coachella Woman Denies Tossing Days-Old Puppies in Dumpster

Deborah Culwell, foreground, appears for her arraignment in an Indio courtroom on June 18, 2019. (Credit: KMIR)

Deborah Culwell, foreground, appears for her arraignment in an Indio courtroom on June 18, 2019. (Credit: KMIR)

A Coachella woman on Tuesday denied more than a dozen animal abuse charges in a case that emerged after she was allegedly caught on video tossing newborn puppies into a dumpster earlier this year.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, pleaded not guilty to seven felony counts of injuring the 3-day-old puppies and seven misdemeanor counts of abandoning them in a trash bin behind an auto parts store in Coachella on April 18, Riverside County court officials said.

Six of the seven palm-sized pups survived.

A passerby noticed what happened and altered authorities, who circulated surveillance video of the incident in hopes the public could help identify the culprit.

When Culwell was arrested at her home on Third Street on April 22, authorities found 38 other dogs and took them into protective custody. The defendant relinquished ownership of the canines on April 27, officials said.

Several of the impounded pooches appeared to have recently given birth, and Culwell admitted the dumped puppies were from two different litters, according to county Animal Services investigators.

The surviving dogs were expected to be put up for adoption.

Culwell has been out of custody since April 23, the day following her arrest, after posting $10,000 bail.

The defendant is scheduled to return to court June 27 for a pretrial hearing.

If convicted as charged, she could face a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars.

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