Animal abuser pleads guilty to assaulting jail guard

It looks like convicted animal abuser Derbe Eckhart could be looking at more jail time.

Eckhart, who once owned the notorious Almost Heaven kennel near Allentown, was four days into his six-to-23 month sentence for animal cruelty when he assaulted a prison guard trying to get medicine. 

Eckhart pleaded guilty to the charge today, saying he was "detoxing from prescription painkillers" and does not remember the incident, according to The Call of Allentown. The newspaper said he was taking Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, and two powerful painkillers, Fentanyl and Percocet. A Lehigh County judge said the guilty plea could add another two years to his 4 1/2 -year probation and that he could also receive more jail time. 

In March a jury convicted Eckhart of animal cruelty and violating a cease-and-desist order barring him from taking new dogs. Animal rescue groups had complained to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement about sick dogs and conditions at Eckhart's kennel. 

It wasn't until a 2008 Pennsylvania SPCA raid revealed hundreds of animals, including dogs, cats, birds and monkeys living in cages throughout the property and dead puppies in a refrigerator that state moved to revoke Eckhart's kennel license. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement removed 200 dogs from his property last year. 

Eckhart still owes the state nearly $90,000 in back taxes, if not more. (Expect his name to turn up on the state's new tax delinquent list coming to the Department of Revenue website next month.)