Woman accused of dumping 7 puppies in Coachella dumpster pleads not guilty

A Coachella woman who police say dumped seven puppies into a dumpster behind an auto parts store in Coachella pleaded not guilty in an Indio courtroom on Tuesday to felony animal cruelty charges.

Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, is accused of pulling up to the trash bin on April 18 and throwing the bag of 3-day-old puppies into it, then driving away. Police used surveillance video of the incident to link her to the crime and arrested her three days later. She is currently out on bail.

Culwell is due back in court on June 27. If convicted of the seven felony animal cruelty counts, she could face up to six years in jail – though District Attorney’s Office spokesman John Hall told KMIR that jail time in a cruelty case is rare and most offenders receive probation and fines.