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Kennel owner pleads guilty

September 23, 2009 6:25:23 AM PDT
41-year-old Derbe "Skip" Eckhart, owner of Almost Heaven Kennel, in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two counts of cruelty to animals and five violations of Pennsylvania's dog laws.

PHOTOS: June 2009 raid at Almost Heaven Kennel
PHOTOS: October 2008 raid at Almost Heaven Kennel
VIDEO: The October 2008 raid at Almost Heaven

Derbe Eckhart faces a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison and a maximum fine of $7,500.

On October 1, 2008 the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals executed a search warrant at the Almost Heaven kennel in the 4200 block of Chestnut Street. Investigators found about 600 dogs on the property and 189 dogs were living in unsanitary conditions.

On June 24, 2009 investigators returned to the property and found more than 200 dogs, 4 of those animals didn't have proper veterinary care.

Eckhart has a state license to operate a kennel in 2008 but the state did not renew his license in 2009. If the state denies a kennel operator a license, officials say the operator is to immediately cease and desist from operating a kennel, including boarding, buying, exchanging or in any way transferring dogs. Eckhart was found in violation of the cease and desist order on at least 3 occasions in 2009.


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