‘Puppies aren’t people,’ says attorney for woman accused of dumping dogs in a recycling bin

Deborah Sue Culwell (credit: Riverside County Sheriff's Department)

COACHELLA, Calif. — A Coachella woman who allegedly dumped seven 3-day-old puppies in a recycling bin was taken into custody on Thursday morning after a bail hearing, the Desert Sun reports.

Deborah Sue Culwell has been charged with seven counts of felony animal cruelty and seven counts of misdemeanor abandoning animals.

Prosecutors successfully argued Thursday that bail should be increased to $50,000 after she had been out of custody after posting $10,000 bail on April 23, but

When her attorney, Joseph Cavanaugh, argued against the bail increase by saying “puppies aren’t people,” he drew gasps from the audience.

He added that his client shouldn’t be held to the same standard as someone who harms a person.

Culwell is facing up to seven years in prison, and the prosecutors argued that a $50,000 bail is more appropriate for such a sentence.

Culwell pleaded not guilty.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 1.

John Hall, Riverside County District Attorney’s office spokesman, said Culwell is not eligible for probation due to a 2011 conviction in a fraud case.

Culwell was arrested on April 22.

Authorities seized 38 dogs from Culwell’s home after they recovered the seven from the recycling bin.

Most of the dogs have been turned over to animal rescue groups.

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