Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Almost Heaven Kennel, Derbe Eckhart

Mar 24, 2010: Dog Warden "I'll never forget"

Mar 22, 2010: Investigators found dogs living in their own waste


A Lehigh County kennel owner accused keeping hundreds of animals in filthy living conditions is set to go to trail Monday.

Derbe “Skip” Eckhart was charged with animal cruelty and other counts after the SPCA raided his Almost Heaven Kennel in 2008.

Investigators found about 250 dogs crammed in cages, living in their own waste and suffering from matted fur and skin ailments.

Their inspection report described a filthy, neglected compound bursting with 779 animals, primarily dogs but also cats, guinea pigs, horses, ponies, fowl, monkeys and a pig. Most of the animals lacked access to food and water...." More

July 8, 2009: Almost Heaven owner hit with $152,900 fine
Derbe Eckhart also faces 200 new charges stemming from raid at his now-closed kennel.

Jun 24, 2009: More Animals Seized From Local Kennel
On Wednesday it was a variety of animals, 4 monkeys, 20 to 30 cats, 3 horses, and many rabbits and birds, seized Wednesday because Tuesday's warrant only pertained to dogs..." More

Jun 23, 2009: 300 Dogs Seized from Kennel in Lehigh County
Authorities seized nearly 300 dogs from the Almost Heaven Kennel in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The organization, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, moved to rescue the animals this morning.

"These animals were subjected to years of constant confinement and denied loving human care and socialization," said Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "The Humane Society of the United States is grateful to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for enforcing the commonwealth's dog law and coming to the aid of man's best friend."

The kennel's owner, Derbe Eckhart, is awaiting trial on charges of animal cruelty and failing to keep the kennel safe and clean. Those charges stem from an investigation and raid at the kennel last October when officials took away dozens of animals. They were later returned.

Last month, Eckhart was cited by the state for keeping additional dogs there while his kennel license was suspended. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement says it took permanent custody of all the dogs today because of Eckhart's failure to appeal his recent license delisting.

Authorities removed all but 25 dogs from the property, the maximum number allowed by law without a kennel license. "Today’s raid closes Almost Heaven, and provides a new opportunity for better lives to the dogs we removed," said Jessie Smith, the state’s special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement. "Mr. Eckhart will never again operate a dog kennel in Pennsylvania, and we will see that the dogs removed from the kennel today are cared for before they are offered for adoption."

The rescuers say they arrived at Almost Heaven this morning to find what they call a disturbing scene. They say the dogs are suffering from a variety of medical ailments and were housed in filthy conditions. They also say many of the dogs were emaciated, had severely matted fur and serious skin and eye infections.

The rescued dogs will be taken to an emergency shelter at the Farm Show Complex near Harrisburg to be checked by a team of veterinarians and given any necessary medical care. The Humane Society and local volunteers will care for the animals while they recover at their temporary home. The dogs will then be sent to rescue groups and humane societies throughout the region, where they will be made available for adoption..." More