Coachella woman sentenced for dumping puppies in the trash

Woman seen tossing puppies into dumpster

The woman who was caught on a security camera throwing seven puppies into a trash can in Coachella, California, pleaded guilty Wednesday to 14 counts of animal cruelty and animal abandonment. 

A judge sentenced 54-year-old Deborah Sue Culwell to 365 days in county jail. She previously pleaded not guilty, but changed her plea in court on Wednesday. 

Culwell will spend 275 days of her sentence in custody and 90 days on a work release, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office told CBS News on Thursday. She also faces seven years of formal probation after her release. 

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During her probation period, Culwell will be prohibited from owning any animals. 

In April, Culwell was caught on surveillance video tossing seven newborn puppies into a dumpster in Coachella Valley. 

Woman is seen in still from surveillance video tossing bag with 7 newborn puppies into dumpster in Coachella, Calif.; authorities identified her as Deborah Culwell CBS Los Angeles

The footage showed Culwell getting out of her car and walking over towards the dumpster, looking for a spot to leave the puppies. She then tossed the plastic bag containing the 3-day-old terrier mixes and drove off, Riverside County Animal Services said at the time.

Shortly after being abandoned, a man rummaging through the dumpster spotted the plastic bag filled with puppies. Local police responded and took the puppies to animal services. 

If they had not been found as quickly as they were, the puppies wouldn’t have survived much longer in the 90-degree heat, animal services said.

“There is no excuse for dumping puppies,” Riverside County Animal Service Commander Chris Mayer said at the time. “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.”

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