A homeless Good Samaritan is behind the rescue of seven puppies who were tossed in a dumpster and were minutes from death in the scorching sun.
The man, who has not been named, was collecting bottles to recycle from the dumpster last Wednesday when he came across a tied plastic bag filled with the new-born pups.
He pulled them out and left them in full view of nearby NAPA Auto Parts store in Coachella, California where a customer brought them inside and quick-thinking staff took over.
Jazzy Espino, 23, who works at the store, was part of the rescue last Wednesday.
She told MMH: ‘The dumpster is on the side of our store, no one ever goes back there. If it wasn’t for the homeless guy digging through the trash minutes later, they wouldn’t have been found. They could so easily have died, it was about 95F that day. They spent at least 30 minutes tied up in that plastic bag. A customer came in and said that there was some puppies outside. We put them in a box and then we brought them in. The puppies were really wet and sweating because they were so hot. They were crying and biting on our fingers because they were just so hungry. We were my holding the puppies to give them comfort. We called the shelter and they came in about 10 minutes. My colleague went next door to get some puppy formula so we could feed them during that time.’
The colleagues went to review the surveillance tapes from the store to find out what had happened.
‘Sure enough in the video it showed the lady passing by in the Jeep about 1pm and looking inside the trashcan, then just tossing them in there,’ Jazzy said. About 15 minutes later, the homeless man was digging through the trash. I guess he heard the puppies crying. He pulled them out and they were tied up with a knot. He carried them over and left them in full view of the store. They were found minutes later. I guess he didn’t want to tell us in case we thought he was the one who left them.’
Espino, who has three dogs, said she and some other workers in the auto shop now want to adopt the puppies.
‘We were worried that they were going to put the puppies down and we said we would take all of the puppies rather than that happen. But they assured us they were going to be taken to a shelter and then put up for adoption. We’re going to be the first ones to know about it. She added: ‘It’s heart-breaking, she needs to like get a jail. I’m so glad she was caught because they found 40 more dogs in her house.’
Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, was arrested at her nearby home after allegedly dumping the animals. She is facing up to seven counts of felony animal cruelty, officials said.
Her home contained another 38 dogs that needed to be impounded to make sure they were properly fed and cared for at a shelter in Thousand Palms, according to John Welsh of Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
Surveillance footage released by the Riverside County Animal Services showed the woman stepping out of a white Jeep, peering into a dumpster used for recyclables, then dropping the bag filled with the puppies inside.
She then walked back to the Jeep and drove away, leaving the puppies to swelter in the heat. Authorities said the puppies may not have survived the 90-degree heat had they not been found within an hour of being dumped.
Riverside County Animal Service Commander Chris Mayer said: ‘The Good Samaritan played a major role in saving theses puppies’ lives. His actions were humane and heroic.
‘There is no excuse for dumping puppies. 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.’
Mayer said the woman’s actions are despicable and he and his colleagues are communicating with Riverside County Sheriff’s investigators and the District Attorney’s office in building a strong cruelty case.
John Welsh, of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, told MMH that the other animals found at Culwell’s small home were not in pristine condition and ‘fearful’ when they were rescued but otherwise in good health.
However he said all the dogs, including the puppies, were now doing well. ‘The bottom line is there is no need to throw dogs in the trash,’ he said. ‘There are people who will help you.’
The puppies are being cared for at an Orange County rescue shelter.