Pennsylvania Kennel Conditions Hellish
The Associated Press reported via CNN that Pennsylvania officials found hundreds of ailing animals crowded into an unsanitary kennel and several puppy carcasses in a freezer, and the owner of the compound lost his license to operate Thursday and was charged with animal cruelty.
After removing dozens of ill dogs and cats for medical care during Wednesday's raid on the Almost Heaven Kennel in Upper Milford Township in eastern Pennsylvania, authorities are negotiating the removal of dozens more, said Elaine Skypala, program director for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Agents found 800 to 1,000 live animals, including monkeys, miniature horses and turkeys, all of which had been neglected fresh water and were living in filth, Skypala said. They also found a freezer containing 65 carcasses, primarily puppies and a few adult dogs.
The SPCA issued a search warrant of the kennel after receiving several resident complaints. The society's officers have a right to raid a place that is suspected of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect.
Officials said Kennel owner Derbe "Skip" Eckhart's animals suffered from skin and eye ailments, upper respiratory diseases and lameness. They cited him for neglecting to provide veterinary care for 43 dogs, nine cats, and a guinea pig.
Eckhart denied allegations, saying that he had passed an August inspection by the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. He faces a maximum fine of $750 per count.
"What they tried to do yesterday was paint a picture that wasn't there," Eckhart said Thursday.
But his license was revoked Thursday, meaning he will have to sell or transfer enough dogs so that his compound will no longer be considered a kennel. By law, any place housing more than 25 dogs is required to be licensed and inspected.
"Mr. Eckhart allowed conditions at his kennel to deteriorate into a deplorable state," Jessie Smith, special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement, said in a statement. "While we continue investigating his operations, we are taking this action to protect the health and welfare of the animals there."
Eckhart was charged two years ago for operating a menagerie without a permit and owning too many monkeys, and he paid the resulting fines.
The state Agriculture Department, which oversees the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, will investigate how Almost Heaven turned up no violations of kennel regulations in the August 7 inspection.
Phil Miller, Eckhart's neighbor, was glad for the raid, saying that he couldn't even open his windows in the summertime because the stench was so disgusting.