My Uncle Max was a huge animal lover, and always used to tell me that there’s a special place in hell for those who are unkind to animals. And while there has thankfully been a drastic improvement for animal rights over the years, there are still many offenders out there that haven’t gotten the concept that animals are living, breathing beings who deserve respect as well.
And recently, there’s been an unfortunate case out of Coachella, California which is an example of how far we still need to go in terms educating people on proper pet care and kindness. A woman is facing accusations of unbelievable cruelty after she neglected over 40 dogs – a story which has shocked people in court as well as throughout the state of California.
The story begins back on the 18th of April of this year, when a man was placing items into a trash bin beside an auto parts store in the city of Coachella. The anonymous man then was shocked to find a plastic bag that had seven newborn puppies inside. The afternoon heat was already in the 90s, and the puppies were dangerously close to death.
The man took the puppies – who were only 3 days old at the time – into the air-conditioned store. As reported by NBC Los Angeles, when the footage from the surveillance camera was checked, a woman can me seen dumping the puppies into trash just fifteen minutes prior to the man arriving.
Riverside County Animal Services (RCAS) released a statement which was quoted by People saying, “If not for the Good Samaritan’s actions, the puppies may not have survived much longer.” Who could have done such a cruel thing and why? “In today’s age, [RCAS] or other shelters would be willing to get these animals to foster parents or rescue partners.”
“This was a shameful act,” asserted RCAS. The suspected dumper that was caught on camera turned out to be 54-year-old Deborah Sue Calwell. She was taken into custody on the 22th of April, and was charged with animal cruelty, which is a felony in the state of California. When police arrived at her residence, what they found was just as shocking and horrific as the puppies left for dead in a plastic bag.
Inside her home, Calwell was hoarding over 38 dogs, most of which were “in a state of disrepair,” as quoted by RCAS officers to the Desert Sun.
RCAS wrote to their Facebook page that these dogs “were living in crammed quarters. If you notice their eyes, many of them appear very nervous. They’re not used to being handled with love, nor do many know how to walk on a leash.”
At Culwell’s bail hearing, the initial bail set at $10,000, however, prosecutors asked the judge to raise it due to the seriousness of the crimes, as well as the large number of dogs that she had abused. The Desert Sun reported that her lawyer actually had the nerve to make the argument that “puppies aren’t people,” therefore her actions should be met with leniency.
Naturally, this comment enraged the people of the court, who can be heard audibly gasping when the defense lawyer spewed such trash. It was a good thing that the judge had the decent sense to raise Culwell’s bail to the amount of $50,000. Sadly, only a few days after the hearing, the runt of the litter passed away in foster care.
The RCAS volunteer who fostered the puppies, Noni Boen Schirm, did everything she could for him – unfortunately after his traumatic start to life he was unable to survive.
“I lost the little tiny runt yesterday… my heart is so broken. He was just so weak and held on for as long as he could 😭”, she shared.
According to the RCAS’s Facebook page, as of May 7th they have managed to rehome 30 of the 37 adult dogs. Noni Boen Schirm has continued to care for the dumped puppies, who appear to be thriving.
Culwell Case Update (and a new, cute photo collage from the foster mom of the dumped pups):Owner Relinquishes 38 Dogs…Posted by Riverside County Animal Services on Monday, April 29, 2019
For animal advocates, this case is important because people need to remember that dogs are not just lifeless property that can be neglected and abused. Advocate Katie Phillips told the Desert Sun, “They’re living creatures and they’re on this earth for us to protect. And they’re innocent victims.”
While puppies may not be people, they still don’t deserve to be treated like trash. Justice for all little animals!