10/16/2009 11:18:00 AM
Last Update: 10/16/2009 11:40:00 AM
Almost Heaven kennel owner Eckhart seeks to withdraw guilty plea
Lehigh County, PA - ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A former eastern Pennsylvania kennel owner is seeking to withdraw a guilty plea to animal cruelty charges.
Derbe Eckhart’s attorney says in court documents that his client was "attempting to save dogs that would have otherwise been destroyed." The motion filed Sept. 28 also says mistakes by a previous attorney are to blame for Eckhart’s failure to close his Almost Heaven kennel in Emmaus.
Animal welfare officers said they found 189 dogs living in unsanitary conditions at the clinic a year ago and seized hundreds of animals in the ensuing months. Eckhart pleaded guilty last month to animal cruelty and dog law violations and faced a maximum term of three years in prison.
Attorney Jeffrey A. Conrad says his client "has a tremendous amount of love for animals" and the problems were unintentional.