Answers to Some Questions about Almost Home Kennels and Much More!
With the long overdue raid on Almost Home kennels in PA, there are many questions being asked, especially how did the kennel pass inspection after inspection, year after year. Damn good question! Are there some scary answers coming to light?? Read on and find out for yourself….
Inn 2006, Gov. Rendell, in the “first step toward addressing inhumane conditions at the growing number of commercial dog breeding operations,” pink slipped the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board and appointed some new people to weed out the corruption and do-nothing attitudes that were so pervasive.
Since then he has been working and fighting to pass legislation to bring puppy mills under stiffer regulations and at least create a more humane environment.
Now we are seeing that much of his efforts seem to be for naught. Those that are supposed to oversee and and inspect these hellholes seem to be letting them get away with murder… literally. How is this happening? How can these places be passing inspection only to be raided shortly thereafter bring the hellish conditions to the light of the public eye? What excuses can the dogs wardens give?
The answers to these questions may be as disturbing as the hellhole puppy mills themselves according to a recent column by Bill White of the Morning Call.
Breeding dogs were brought away with empty eye sockets full of flies, eyes long dead for untreated infections, splayed feet from a life on cage wire and a host of other medical problems. The owner of Limestone Kennels was raided by Pennsylvania SPCA agents and charged with some 23 counts of animal cruelty.
This is a kennel that had up until then been receiving ‘satisfactory’ inspection reports from those assigned to oversee the welfare of the dogs. The kennel was re-inspected by other wardens, the license revoked and the wardens who made the initial ‘satisfactory’ reports were reassigned to desk duty.
Ok, now let’s fast forward to the recent Almost Home Kennel raid that occurred just this week. This is another PA kennel, quite notorious along with the owner, Derbe ‘Skip’ Eckhart, in some circles. The kennel had just underwent an inspection on August 7 and was given passing grades, same as with the past couple of years inspections, yet on October 1, after several months undercover investigation, the kennel was raided. The PSPCA found appalling conditions, removed some of the animals, wrote up masses of citations and the kennel license was revoked.
Is this an answer;
This is an operation that pretty much everyone knew was a mess. So the suspicion has been that if the state of Pennsylvania keeps giving Almost Heaven a clean bill of health, there’s something wrong.
However, Pattie Fontana, a longtime employee at Almost Heaven who finally left the place in 2007 but returned for a few weeks this summer, told me Eckhart always was warned before an inspection and that he had a close relationship with Martrich. Information she supplied to PSPCA helped spark this week’s raid.
Hmmmmm….. well that would certainly shed some light, now wouldn’t it??
Bill Smith, founder of Main Line Animal Rescue in Chester Springs — the group that sparked the Limestone Kennels investigation — told me he has filed complaints, both with the state attorney general’s office and the state inspector general, alleging that then-state dog warden Martrich was improperly sharing information with Eckhart and tipping him off to raids and the origin of complaints. He also complained to former Bureau of Dog Law Director Mary Bender after his inquiries about Almost Heaven were relayed right to Eckhart.
Is it getting brighter here or is that my imagination?? It’s also starting to stink pretty bad!
As for Bill Smith’s complaints, well, nothing happened except that Martrich was promoted to regional supervisor, and there was an immediate inspection of Smith’s own rescue kennel — by a two-person team that included Rick Martrich.
Dog warden spokesperson says they’re going to be investigating how the wardens missed the horrific conditions at the Limestone Kennels and will now be adding Almost Home Kennels to the investigation.
However, resolving that one may be more complicated than just putting a couple of people in desk jobs.
The four-person team that inspected Almost Heaven in August included the relatively new director of dog law, Sue West.
I wonder if she’ll suspend herself?
Now there’s some serious and scary allegations going on. Is it time for another serious pink slipping and house cleaning?? Things are supposed to be improving but when ‘corruption’ start way up high, as they say, it all comes down too.
Take some time to read Bill White’s highly enlightening column for many more insights including Eckhart’s BBB record and the fact that he has over 80K in unpaid tax liens dating back to 2001. And he’s been getting away with murder for 20 years!
Looks to me like there need to be some very serious changes and it’s beyond time that a bright light is shined on all of this and that people are made to pay!
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