Veterinarians paint starkly different pictures of Eckhart kennel

A former Pennsylvania SPCA veterinarian testifying for the prosecution in the animal cruelty trial of Lehigh County kennel operator Derbe Eckhart told the jury the animals had injuries and diseases resulting from the filthy conditions.

Veterinarian Rachel Lee on Thursday testified that dogs at the Almost Heaven Kennel near Allentown were sick because Eckhart failed to provide them with adequate care, according to news reports.

But a veterinarian called by the defense disputed Lee’s claims, saying the ailments she described are common among rescued animals. [Eckhart was a breeder who claimed to also run a "rescue," so it's hard to understand that justification]

Carol Miller said she visited the kennel as often as three times a month since 2003 and found the animals well-fed and happy. Eckhart’s kennel was raided in 2008 and dozens of animals seized. In 2009 the state removed more than 200 dogs from the property and revoked his kennel license.

A Lehigh County jury is considering 13 of the dozens of charges filed against Eckhart, eight animal cruelty counts and five counts of violating a state order that he not bring animals to his kennel or transfer them from it. Judge Robert L. Steinberg will consider a long list of summary offenses after the jury has reached its verdict, according to the Morning Call of Allentown.