Trial begins for Lehigh County AKC judges charged with cruelty

Trial began yesterday in Lehigh County for two American Kennel Club judges charged with animal cruelty after state wardens found dogs in their kennel suffering from severe matting, starvation and other health problems.

One veterinarian said the matting on the Bichon Frise dogs in the care Miriam "Mimi" Winkler and James R. Deppen, who ran Judge's Choice Ironwood Kennels, was the worst she had ever seen, according to the Morning Call of Allentown. She said the tangle of urine, feces and dirt took at least a year to get that bad. Another vet said the starving Border Collie, who was removed from the property, was so skinny she was surprised his body was "functioning."

A state dog warden said during an inspection this spring he ordered veterinary exams on three Mastiffs. He returned four days later and found a dead Mastiff in a wheelbarrow.

Winkler and Deppen are facing 22 counts each of cruelty and the state has revoked their kennel license. It is unclear what action, if any, the AKC has taken or will take against the pair.

The judge ordered the trial, which lasted six hours yesterday, continued at an unnannounced later date.

More from the Morning Call of Allentown here.