There was nothing heavenly about Almost Heaven Kennels in Emmaus, Lehigh County -- a kennel with a history of abuse. An afternoon raid of the kennel Tuesday, owned by Derbe Eckhart, permanently closed the facility, according to the Department of Agriculture.
“Today’s raid closes Almost Heaven, and provides a new opportunity for better lives to the dogs we removed,” said Jessie Smith, the state’s special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement. “Mr. Eckhart will never again operate a dog kennel in Pennsylvania, and we will see that the dogs removed from the kennel today are cared for before they are offered for adoption.”
About 250 dogs were removed from the property.
The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement refused Eckhart’s 2009 kennel license application an inspection back in October found violations of the Dog Law. Through his attorney, Eckhart tried with an appeal to stop dog wardens from seizing the animals without success.
“Previous versions of the Dog Law allowed kennel owners to operate for extended periods of time even after having their kennel license revoked or refused,” said Smith. “The new law prohibits kennels in that situation from obtaining new dogs, breeding or boarding and…gives dog wardens clear authority to continue to inspect and to seize dogs when appeals are exhausted and allows a prior closure by the state to prevent issuance of a new license upon reapplication.”
In 2008, the PSPCA found filthy conditions inside Almost Heaven with 800 animals crammed into cages and kennels. Dead puppies were also found stashed in a refrigerator, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Eckhardt still faces animal cruelty charges from that raid.