Lehigh Valley

SPCA: No violations of animal cruelty code found at former kennel owner's property

Former kennel raided

UPPER MILFORD TWP., Pa. - SPCA officials say no animal cruelty code violations were found during a raid of the Lehigh County property of Derbe Eckhart, a former kennel owner who served prison time in 2010 on animal cruelty charges and was accused of violating his probation earlier this week.

State police and SPCA personnel, along with several U-haul vehicles, arrived at the  Chestnut Street, Upper Milford Township property Saturday morning to execute a warrant. No animals were seized, according to officials. SPCA officials say they will continue to follow up on the investigation.

Earlier this week, investigators issued a probation warrant for Eckhart.

The county's probation department responded to Eckhart's property Monday.

At that time, officials said they found dozens of animals living in poor conditions, including 22 horses, three monkeys, 138 birds and more cats and kittens than they could count. The probation violation alleges more animals were at the location than permitted.

On Saturday, SPCA officials say veterinarians spent several hours examining every one of the large number of animals on the property, and found no violations of animal cruelty.

SPCA officials said a warning was issued for the number of animals on the property, as set forth by the county probation department. SPCA officials did note they do not have jurisdiction on the number of animals, only on animal cruelty allegations.

Eckhart is the former owner of the Almost Heaven Kennel in Upper Milford Township, which was raided in 2008.

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.

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