Pa. dog breeder withdraws animal cruelty plea

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 3:03 PM

A former eastern Pennsylvania dog breeder is scheduled to go on trial on animal cruelty charges after withdrawing his guilty plea.

Lehigh County Judge Robert L. Steinberg granted Derbe Eckhart's request to withdraw his plea Monday. Steinberg set Eckhart's bail at $25,000 and ordered him jailed. He also ordered Eckhart to quit working with animals.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jay Jenkins says Eckhart faces trial in December on charges including cruelty to animals and operating a kennel without a license.

Authorities who raided Eckhart's Almost Heaven kennel in October 2008 say they found 189 dogs crowded in filthy conditions. They say they also discovered dozens of animal corpses in a freezer. The kennel was shut down in June.

A phone message left Monday for Eckhart's attorney was not immediately returned.