Homeless man hailed a hero after finding puppies minutes after being tossed into dumpster

Several puppies tossed in a dumpster in California last week may not have been found had it not been for a homeless man digging for bottles to recycle.

The man, who has not been identified, was rummaging through the dumpster in Coachella on April 20 when he found a plastic bag filled with the palm-sized newborn pups. Minutes earlier, police said surveillance video caught Deborah Sue Culwell, 54, getting out of a jeep and throwing the dogs into the trash on a scorching day.

The man took the bag and set it in view of a nearby NAPA Auto Parts store. A customer brought it inside and store employees called authorities.

“The dumpster is on the side of our store, no one ever goes back there,” NAPA employee Jazzy Espino told the Daily Mail. “If it wasn’t for the homeless guy digging through the trash minutes later, they wouldn’t have been found.”

The dogs – five males and two females -- were found malnourished and dehydrated, Riverside County Animal Services said.

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Culwell was arrested at her home, which contained 38 dogs who were all taken to a nearby shelter. She is charged with felony animal cruelty and faces seven years in prison.