‘Puppies aren’t people’: Attorney defends accused puppy trash tosser


In Coachella, California, Deborah Culwell, 54, alleged to have thrown a bag of seven newborn puppies into a dumpster, appeared in court again on Thursday. This time it was Culwell’s attorney, Joseph Cavanaugh, who shocked courtroom observers:

“As the law is written, puppies aren’t people,” Cavanaugh stated defending his client against bail being increased- stressing the crimes are alleged against animals and not people.

In a statement to CbsNews, Cavanaugh defended himself later to reporters and clarified what he said to the judge  causing widespread outrage.

“I understand, I mean, the statement was taken out of context. On the surface, yes, it’s a callous statement, and it’s not to say I don’t care for animals. I’m actually a dog lover myself. The issue was just trying to make the distinction between how the law looks at an animal versus the law looking at a person.”

According to Riverside County Animal Services, a white Jeep Wrangler pulled up to the back of the Napa Auto Parts store located at 49251 Grapefruit Boulevard where a woman got out of the vehicle, looked into the dumpster and then threw a plastic trash bag into it.

“Shortly afterward, a passerby, named John, rummaged through the trash and noticed the bag and brought it into the Napa store. If not for the Good Samaritan, the puppies may not have survived much longer,” the news release stated. “The mid-day temperatures in Coachella on Thursday were in the mid-90s range.”

Officer Cisneros reviewed the surveillance footage from the store’s security camera and watched the segment that showed a vehicle near the dumpster. A Good Samaritan found them.

The seven puppies, who were barely three-days old, thrown into the trash, along with 38 other dogs were removed from the defendant’s home; one puppy died, Katie Phillips, from Society’s Outkasts Animal Rescue stated. Many of the dogs are available for adoption, and the puppies are being socialized to prepare them for new homes.

Culwell has pleaded not guilty; her bail had initially been set at $10,000. She has been charged with seven counts of felony animal cruelty and seven counts of misdemeanor abandoning animals. Prosecutors were able to argue bond be raised to $50,000. After Thursday’s hearing, Culwell was taken into custody.




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