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Tag: saviour

Eckhart defends conditions at his kennel

The former owner of Almost Heaven Kennel in Pennsylvania, taking the stand in his trial on animal cruelty charges, portrayed himself as a savior of dogs in need of rescue.

Derbe “Skip” Eckhart took the stand Friday, describing his efforts to tend to the hundreds of animals at his Lehigh County kennel, the Associated Press reported.

Eckhart testified Friday that he rescued many dogs from breeders who no longer wanted them, saving animals that would otherwise have been destroyed. He disputed prosecution claims that he neglected dogs and cats in his care.

Breeders routinely called Eckhart and said that if he didn’t come for their unwanted dogs, they would simply shoot them, Eckhart testified.

“And that’s what I did,” he said. “I came for them.”

Prosecutors allege Eckhart kept hundreds of dogs in filthy conditions.

Witnesses from the Pennsylvania SPCA and the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement testified earlier in the trial that dogs at the kennel lived in their own urine and feces and suffered from a lack of routine veterinary care, contributing to their poor health.

Eckhart said he enjoyed a “very good working relationship” with animal welfare agencies until October, 2008, when agents from the Pennsylvania SPCA and the state dog law bureau raided the kennel, detaining Eckhart and his workers for hours while the media looked on.

Eckhart’s attorney, Jeff Conrad, has maintained his client was targeted by publicity-seeking animal-welfare officials.

Eckhart said he took in about 30 dogs from another breeder only a few weeks before the raid. He acknowledged that some of those dogs still needed to be bathed and groomed at the time of the raid, but insisted that he was getting to them.