Lehigh County dog breeder raided last year pleads guilty to animal cruelty

Lehigh County dog breeder Derbe Eckhart has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after SPCA agents raided his
kennel last year and found hundreds of dogs crowded together in filthy conditions.

Eckhart, 41, pleaded guilty today in Lehigh County Court to two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and five
violations of the state’s dog law, the Associated Press reports. Eckhart faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $7,500 when he is sentenced Nov. 16. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jay Jenkins says Eckhart treated the dogs with “wanton neglect.”

In June, the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement removed 216 dogs from the kennel after Eckhart lost an emergency appeal of his kennel license revocation.

A raid at the Emmaus property last year by the Pennsylvania SPCA exposed horrendous conditions inside the kennel where as many as 800 animals, also including cats, horses, birds and guinea pigs, were found living in filthy, crowded cages and kennels.