This Year, Worst Coachella Headline Isn't About Music

It's about puppies
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2019 9:00 AM CDT

The Coachella festival has wrapped up for 2019, and this year, perhaps the biggest Coachella headline of April had nothing to do with music. Instead: puppy dumping. As has been reported at NBC News and pretty much everywhere else from coast to coast, a woman in Coachella, Calif., was caught on video putting a plastic bag with seven newborn puppies into a dumpster on a hot day. Luckily, a man rummaging through the garbage bin behind an auto parts store found the bag within 15 minutes and brought it inside the store. They called authorities, and the puppies are now doing OK. Police have since arrested 54-year-old Deborah Sue Culwell of Coachella, who faces seven counts of animal cruelty. Some details, including video links:

  • Three videos: Riverside County Animal Services put out two videos, one showing the dumping and another of Culwell's arrest. Happier is a third one, at ABC 7, showing the rescue.
  • Good Samaritan: That's what authorities are calling the man who found the puppies. He wishes to remain anonymous. "I noticed the bag on the floor" of the dumpster, he tells ABC 7. "They were tied up in the bag, so I immediately opened the bag up a little further. ... I just couldn't leave them there."
  • Jail time? Technically, Culwell faces up to six years in prison if convicted, per BuzzFeed. The Washington Post notes that jail time is unusual in animal cruelty cases, "but because this case is so egregious, it may be an exception."
  • Lots of dogs: During her arrest, authorities found 38 dogs in Culwell's home, reports CNN. They were "not in great condition," says a county spokesperson. All are now at the Coachella Valley Animal Campus.
  • Second case: This is the second case of puppy dumping in the area in as many months, reports the Palm Springs Desert Sun. In March, two puppies were found in a trash bin at a recycling center in Thousand Palms.
  • The puppies: The terrier mixes are being cared for (and bottle-fed) by an animal rescue group. The temperature was in the 90s the day they were sealed in a bag and dumped. "That’s a window of 15 minutes—had he not called us, those dogs are dead," the county spokesperson says of the man who found them. "That guy is a hero in our mind."
(More Coachella stories.)

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