Ex-kennel owner serving cruelty sentence denied parole

No freedom for ex-kennel owner and convicted animal abuser Derbe Eckhart.

Authorities denied a parole request by the former owner of Almost Heaven Kennel in Lehigh County, according to the Morning Call of Allentown.

Court records said Eckhart's "assaultive conduct" while in prison for animal cruelty "does not support consideration for parole at this time."

Eckhart, 43, pleaded guilty in July to punching a prison guard in the stomach shortly after arriving in prison on a six-to-23 month sentence.

Earlier, a jury found him guilty of five misdemeanors: two animal-cruelty counts and three counts of violating a cease-and-desist order that barred him from taking in new dogs. A judge also found Eckhart guilty of more than a dozen summary offenses, for the dirty, hazardous conditions in his kennel.

When Eckhart is eventually released he will have two large bills waiting for him from the state: he owes in excess of $80,000 in back taxes and $167,000 in penalities imposed after a raid on his kennel last year.

A Pennsylvania SPCA investigation in 2008 led to the cruelty charges against Eckhart who at the time was one of the highest volume dog breeders in the state.

More from the Call here.