It is the conclusion to a story that touched the hearts of animal lovers in the Coachella Valley, surveillance footage caught a Coachella woman tossing seven puppies into a dumpster in April and she pleaded guilty in the Indio courthouse Wednesday.
Deborah Sue Culwell, 59, changed her not-guilty plea to guilty on seven felony animal cruelty counts and seven misdemeanor animal abandonment charges.
Judge Harold Hopp sentenced Culwell to 365 days in jail — reduced to 174 days with credit for time served — and 36 months of formal probation, during which time she will not be able to own or possess animals.
Janeen Bahr and Katie Phillips are animal advocates and they own five of the 38 dogs found inside the Culwell’s home during the investigation.
They both wanted longer sentences for Culwell, but Phillips said a year is still justice, “I feel good today because like Janeen said sometimes people don’t get any time.”
The courtroom portion of the case is now completed but the pets still have a long way to go in getting adjusted to loving homes.
“It’s just nice to know that there’s a little bit of justice for them,” Bahr said. “And I don’t know if they’ll feel any better tonight but they will feel it a little bit from us when we go home and give them a big hug and say you got your justice today.”