COACHELLA (CBSLA) — One of the puppies that was seen stuffed into a plastic bag and thrown in a Coachella dumpster has died, officials said Thursday.
The foster volunteer said the runt of the litter may have been at the bottom of a bag of seven terrier mix puppies and just couldn’t make a comeback from the traumatic moment, according to Riverside County Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.
“I think he was the cushion that saved his siblings,” volunteer Noni Boen Schirm wrote on Facebook about the dog’s death. “I think he was at the bottom and took the hit when all of his siblings landed on him.”
Schirm said the six other puppies are appearing to thrive.
A passerby found the puppies after hearing them whimpering from a trash bin outside an auto parts store in Coachella last Thursday. Surveillance video showed the bag had been placed in the dumpster by a woman authorities identified as 54-year-old Deborah Culwell, who now faces up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty.
Culwell was arrested Monday at her home, where animal services officers found 38 more dogs. All 38 were impounded, but no serious ailments have been detected among the dogs. Animal services officials say there’s no way to determine which dog may be the mother of the dumped puppies, as several of the impounded females appear to have had recent litters.
Culwell remains the legal owner of the 38 impounded dogs and faces up to $750 in fees for board and care, plus the costs of vaccinations, examination, medications and state-mandated fees. Officials say she has 10 days to request a hearing to take back ownership of her dogs, but if the 10-day period hold expires, animal services can begin coordinating adoptions for the impounded dogs.