Almost Heaven kennel owner to be sentenced for cruelty

A Lehigh County man who once owned one of the largest kennels in the state is scheduled to be sentenced for animal cruelty today.

A jury found Derbe "Skip" Eckhart - owner of the now defunct Almost Heaven kennel - guilty of multiple counts of animal cruelty stemming from a 2008 raid. That action by the Pennsylvania SPCA revealed hundreds of animals - including cats, dogs, horses, birds and guinea pigs - living in filth and many sick and injured dogs. In that raid, and a subsequent raid by humane agents and the state in 2009, 325 dogs were removed from the property.

Eckhart, who continued to accumulate dogs after his kennel license was revoked, had a history of animal cruelty, including a conviction in 1990 related to the deaths of ten starving puppies.

More from the Morning Call of Allentown here. (The newspaper plans to update with news from the courthouse today)