AKC judges sentenced in cruelty case

Two Lehigh County dog breeders and American Kennel Club judges have been sentenced to a 60-day probationary program after being found guilty of multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Miriam "Mimi" Winkler, 71, and James R. Deppen, 46, of New Tripoli, were placed in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, or ARD for first time offenders. If they complete their probation they could have their records expunged, according to the Morning Call of Allentown.

District Judge Rod Beck in September found Winkler and Deppen, who operated Judges Choice of Ironwood Kennels, guilty of three cruelty counts involving bichon frise dogs, one cruelty count involving a border collie and one count of operating an unlicensed kennel. Winkler was also found guilty of making a false statement to a dog warden.

In April state dog wardens discovered 18 bichon frise dogs living in unsanitary conditions. The dogs had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors that were untreated. Winkler surrendered the bichons and a sick border collie.

Two months later wardens returned and ordered veterinary care for three Neapolitan mastiffs. When wardens returned three days later two of the Neapolitan mastiffs were dead, including one that was found in a wheel barrow outside the kennel.


The Department of Agriculture has revoked the duo's kennel license. The American Kennel Club did not immediately respond to a question about what action, if any, the club intended to take against Deppen or Winkler. Their names still appear on the AKC website under the judges directory.