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COACHELLA, Calif. — As a NAPA AUTO PARTS store employee, Jazzy Espino is used to getting all sorts of car-related questions and problems thrown at her. But the 23-year-old was thrown for a loop last week when her fellow employees retrieved her from the back room of the Southern California store for a very different type of problem — a canine-related one.
A customer had noticed a plastic bag by the side of the building and heard a noise. He turned around and realized the bag was full of puppies — very small puppies. The customer, who is choosing to remain anonymous, brought the bag into Espino’s store.
There, Espino and her co-workers sprang into action.
“We took them out of the bag, and took turns holding them, trying to give them comfort,” Espino said when we reached her by phone at the store. “We found a box and put them in it. They were very sweaty from being in that bag for so long. It was very hot, and we were worried that they wouldn’t survive.” Temperatures in Coachella, at the time the puppies were abandoned, were in the mid-90s.
While a co-worker left to buy formula for the puppies, Espino called the Riverside County Department of Animal Services. While she waited for officers to arrive, she and her co-workers started thinking about the future of the tiny pups.
“We all said that if animal control was going to put them down, that we would just take them,” she said. “We planned out who would take which puppy. We were not going to let them be put down.”
Luckily, when animal control arrived, they assured Espino and her team that they would not have to euthanize the animals. They would, however, be placed in foster care until they were old enough to be adopted.
But before the officers left with the puppies, they had some investigating to do: first, who tossed a bag full of three-day-old puppies in the dumpster behind the store?
Once again, the NAPA team acted quickly, accessing the store’s security cameras. There, they found footage of a woman getting out of a white Jeep and tossing the plastic bag into the dumpster.
“Not placing it in there gently,” Espino noted. “Tossing it, like it was trash.”
From the footage, they also discovered that a man who had been rummaging through the trash that morning had initially found the bag and heard a noise coming from it.
That man left the bag near the entrance of the store, where presumably he knew someone would find it.
After watching the footage, officers had enough evidence to arrest the woman responsible. During her arrest, 38 more dogs were rescued and taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus. Authorities were trying to figure out if any of those dogs were the mother of the puppies found at the NAPA store.
As for Espino, a lifelong dog owner and dog lover, she’s hoping the puppies are OK, and she’s still hoping to adopt one of them once they’re healthy enough.
“I really want one,” she said. “Hopefully it will work out.”
A version of this story was previously published on MNN.com in April 2019.
Jaime Bender is a staff writer, copy editor and web producer at From the Grapevine. She has written and edited for several print and digital publications in Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina. A native of Philadelphia, she graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and son.Learn More
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