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Lehigh Valley

Neighbors heartbroken at more animal cruelty accusations against Derbe Eckhart

Neighbors heartbroken at more animal cruelty charges

UPPER MILFORD TWP., Pa. - He spent time in jail for animal cruelty, and now Derbe Eckhart has violated his parole by again having animals on his Lehigh County property, authorities said.

Eckhart's neighbors said this time, he should get more than just a few months of jail time.

Authorities said there was such a large number of cats in the kitchen of the home they were unable to get an accurate count.

One neighbor said the cruelty to animals needs to stop.

The sign from the Almost Heaven Kennel is gone, but according to the Lehigh County Probation Department, Eckhart is still keeping a lot of animals.

"For him to be doing this again, it's heartbreaking," said Rachel Hinkle, a neighbor who lives on Chestnut Street.

Eckhart spent nine months in jail after a 2010 conviction for animal cruelty. He was then placed on three years' probation with a condition that limits his ownership, possession, control or custody of animals or employment with the care of animals.

The alleged probation violation occurred after members of the department conducted on inventory search on Monday at Eckhart's property on Chestnut Street in Upper Milford Twp., Lehigh Co.

"If you abuse a child, or something, someone will go to jail for a long time," added Hinkle. "But for abusing an animal it's like a slap on the wrist."

Video shot by 69 News of Eckhart's property, taken from a neighboring parking lot, shows a horse trailer in the driveway, and in the back of the home, horses and geese were visible in the yard.

The full inventory list, according the Lehigh County Probation Department, includes: 21 dogs, three donkeys, four goats, 22 horses, including Clydesdales, 138 birds, 23 chickens, seven hens, two turkeys, five peacocks, three monkeys, and two large geese. It's a total of 230 animals, not including the numerous cats found inside of the home.

"The law should be a little bit more strict for abusing animals and mistreating him," said Hinkle.

No court date has been set to hear the alleged probation violation case.

69 News went to the front door of Eckhart's home, and a woman who came to the door and said, "Can you just go? He has no comment."

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