POSTED: 06-25-2009Just days after the Department of Agriculture
raided a local kennel and removed hundreds of dogs, more details
are coming out about how the investigation was handled. The state
Inspector General's Office was asked to review the handling of
inspections at the Almost Heaven kennel. WFMZ's Jaccii Farris reports.
Representative Doug Reichley says at least one Department of
Agriculture employee has been fired and two or three more employees
may lose their jobs by the time the investigative process is over.
Before October, 2008, Almost Heaven in Upper Milford Township
passed numerous inspections by the Department of Agriculture.
That's when an undercover investigation revealed unsanitary
conditions and resulted in the seizure of 50 sickly animals.. The
department says it started looking at their own inspectors.
>> DOUG REICHLEY: At least more than one allegation that these
folks were tipping off Eckhart as to when the inspections were going
to take place or were not actually recording the conditions that were
>> REPORTER: The department of Agriculture confirms it asked the
Office of the inspector general to review its inspections of Almost
Heaven. But would not comment on any action taken. Representative
Doug Reichley says so far one person has been fired and other
terminations may follow. Almost Heaven's license wasn't renewed
in 2009. But officials say they had to wait until Almost Heaven's
appeals process ended before taking action. Tuesday and Wednesday,
the Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania SPCA raided
Almost Heaven again..seizing 216 dogs. 21 dogs and other animals
remain on the property. The Department of Agriculture says Derbe
Eckhart will never be allowed to operate a kennel in the state again.
Reichley says Almost Heaven is also in hot water with the department
of revenue for allegedly not paying $90,000 in sales tax charged to
customers. Reichley says a lien was filed on the property, but the
state didn't follow through.
>> When we asked them why they said if he's out of business he's
not going to pay back the sales tax.
>> REPORTER: 69 News was unable to get comment from the
Department of Revenue. All of the dogs seized have been taken to
shelters for adoption, including the Berks County Humane Society.