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http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-b3_5an...0,2274272.story

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The story is far from over, however. Still unexplained is how a kennel that passed state inspection on Aug. 7 could be found in such horrific condition just two months later.

While agriculture officials told state Rep. Douglas Reichley, R-Lehigh, that the conditions had apparently deteriorated dramatically in a couple of weeks, an affidavit filed by the SPCA shows investigators and confidential informants were buying sick and filthy dogs before and after the inspection.

Agriculture Department spokesman Chris Ryder said officials would not comment for now about the inspection. Susan West, director of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, participated, as well as two dog wardens and a supervisor.

Ryder said that since the department is investigating the discrepancy between the clean inspection and the findings during the undercover action and the raid on Wednesday, officials would not comment further.

Some of the scores of dogs and cats seized from Derbe ''Skip'' Eckhart's Almost Heaven kennel are already up for adoption through the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Philadelphia, and many more are expected to be available after they receive medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation.

But the fate of hundreds of other animals seized in Wednesday's raid at the Upper Milford compound -- including horses, pigs, swans, turkeys and more -- is unclear. Society Director Howard Nelson said the agreement struck by Eckhart's attorneys and the society contains a confidentiality clause which prohibits him from discussing the terms, including what becomes of the animals.

''We're happy with the deal, but as far as what the provisions are, we cannot release them,'' Nelson said.

Eckhart has a history of bouncing back after animal cruelty convictions and other legal run-ins, which may explain why the society consented to strike a deal and keep mum on the details.
 
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