Cruelty Case at PA Show/Breeding Kennel

Ironwood Kennels in Lehigh Co, operated by Miriam “Mimi” Winkler and James Deppen, was inspected by 3 PA dog wardens on April 27:

The visit turned up 18 bichon frise dogs that were “living in unsanitary conditions and had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors on some of the dogs that were untreated,” police said.

The kennel owners turned all 18 dogs over to the dog wardens.  The following day, one of the dog wardens returned to the kennel and Ms. Winkler surrendered “an emaciated and sickly border collie”.  Authorities tried repeatedly to contact Ms. Winkler and Mr. Deppen in the following weeks without success.

The three dog wardens then returned June 4 to the kennel and discovered three Neapolitan Mastiff dogs “in health conditions that indicate that necessary vet care had not been provided.”

An order to obtain veterinary care was left and, in accordance with state law, the wardens waited 72 hours to allow for compliance.

The wardens returned June 7 to find “two of the Neapolitan mastiffs were deceased, one of which was disposed of outside of the kennel in a wheelbarrow,” police said.

The owners have each been “charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty and one count criminal conspiracy“.  There is a video here, shot from outside the property, which shows a well kept lawn that doesn’t look like dozens of dogs are exercised on it daily.  The video does not show the kennels or dogs. (Note:  15 second ad prior to vid.)

According to Infodog, Mr. Deppen is an AKC conformation judge, approved to judge several breeds with provisional approval on many more.  On one of the weekends during the period authorities were trying to reach him regarding the allegedly sick and neglected dogs at his kennel, he was apparently judging show dogs in Virginia.  A Neapolitan Mastiff bred by Mr. Deppen and Ms. Winkler was shown at the Westminster Kennel Club show in February.

Winkler and Deppen are in the process of filing papers in Harrisburg to close the kennel, according to state police.

It’s unclear to me what this means exactly.  Does it indicate they are planning to move?  Or simply that they are planning to come into compliance with local laws changing their status from kennel operators to regular pet owners?  Something else?

22 thoughts on “Cruelty Case at PA Show/Breeding Kennel

  1. many people love there dogs.neos are a fairly rare breed.i just took my male neo to be evaluated by jim deppen on june 7th of this year. i cant believe this new.i went to his place of business which is a grooming salon in madison nj.i cant believe he would not have groomed his own,what is wrong with sister bought a dog from river bottom whom was breeding dogs with the president of the neapolitan mastiff club.the dog had to be put down at only 10 months do to severe hip dyspacia ion both hips.when we contact the breeder and president of the club i was told my sister and i were bhoth scum bags and this is why american woman shouldnt own this type of dog. most role models breeders encourage testing and have there own dogs tested not happing in this bred.i hope this brings alot of changes to this breed. these neo are gentle gaints and quardians of our family they deserve to be treated the proper way.

    1. Wow, you have no room to talk lady. You sell sick pups. The pup that i got wasn’t event the same one I picked out and you said your pups have papers. Akc has no record off any litters. Your a fraud yourself!!

      1. i only had on blue male n this litter .you got the puppy you picked and paid for. puppy was at vet and got health cert within 24 hrs prior to said 100% akc i have your akc paper in had.due to you spreading false rumors you will wait untill the 4 months allowed by state law to get said papers.continue to spread false info and you will never get them.i have the message on macdhine after you picked puppy up completly content with crazy people

    2. Beware when buying from janet Teague. We paid for our puppy in full with AKC papers and is now holding our papers ransom and wants another $2500 for the pups papers or for us to take her to court which wil cost her MORE. We were sold a difffernt pup than the pictured one we picked out (pics to prove) and now she won’t give us our papers. This breeder is located in NJ> She is not a nice woman to speak with on the phone. We have tried to speak with her reasonably twice and have failed.


  2. Jim was working in MY grooming salon in Madison and messup a lot of things there. It is very hard to realise that people can do it… On June 7th he trew his died Neo out of kennel and came to work … and gave evaluation to other Neo… Horable…

    1. It is way too early for judging papers to be submitted for next year. Somehow, I don’t think she’ll have a judging conflict

  3. Is there any update to this atrocity? It seems that it was hushed up as quickly as it made the news. It’s been over a month. I hear one of the owners was at the National Specialty while the authorities were trying to track them down. Breed clubs have the power to expel – as does AKC – why haven’t we heard anything?

    1. I have had a Google alert set up to follow this case since day one and I haven’t gotten a single return on it yet. If anyone knows of any developments, please share.

  4. as I am sure that most people have heard by now, of the 60 counts of anmial cruelty, they were convicted of four each – three bichon’s and the border collie. None of the neo’s were mentioned in the final indictment. Winkler was also cited for lying to a public official I have heard that she has resigned her assignement at the Bichon Natational Specialty for 2011. Fines from the State of PA total $800. AKC has yet to rule on any suspensions or fines. The attorney for Winkler/Deppens says they will appeal – but most attorney’s will say this as a parting shot. AKC will probably fine them an additional $2000.00 and suspend them from all AKC events for the next 10 years. Since Mrs. Winkler is 71, she is probably better off taking the $2800 fine, cut her losses, and forget about an appeal. Mr. Deppen, being much younger, may have other options. My personal opinion that it is not worth paying an attorney an hourly fee for a $2800 fine – when that number could be easily reached doing research for the case – with no guarantee as to a change in asnwer. Considering that the actual photos and videos that were shown in court have yet to be released to the public, pending appeal – and this is the damning evidence – they are both probably better off taking their lumps and either retire or try to start over. Mr. Deppen can still groom in any grooming shop and earn a living. Mrs. Winkler is getting up there in years and it might be better for her to just plain retire. There reputations will be forever tarnished at this point. They will not be remembered for anything other than this.

  5. Is the same jim deppen in NJ that is a retired proffessor and current AKC judge?

    I’m looking at purchasing a German Shorthair Pointer from Jim.

    1. Lance,

      I was going to purchase a dog from him too. Did you end up purchasing one? Did you have a favorable experience? Did the change the price and shipping charge on you by chance?


      1. Lance and Lawton – any feedback you can share here? How were your experiences?

      2. Seriously? You obviously googled the guy’s name to get here and you’re STILL thinking about purchasing an animal from him?

        You astonish me.

      3. Mikken – thanks for the reply. While the incident is horrible and the conviction is telling … it was over 6 years ago. One cannot believe everything they read online, good or bad. Due diligence is required in either scenario. There is actually a good bit about him online that shows he produces great dogs. Have you personally dealt with him? Seeing that Lance and Lawton had recent experiences with him maybe things have changed… or maybe not.

      4. “While the incident is horrible and the conviction is telling … it was over 6 years ago.”

        Apparently, your personal statute of limitations for animal abusers is much shorter than mine.

        ” There is actually a good bit about him online that shows he produces great dogs.”

        Well, just speaking for myself, I don’t care if the man farts gold bricks, I still wouldn’t have any dealings with him whatsoever. Michael Vick produced some really great dogs, too.

  6. Mikken – Thank you for your helpful reply. Your non-solicited online moral judgement is greatly appreciated… I just don’t know if I will be able to live with myself anymore.

    To everyone else – please feel free to shoot me a note if you have had personal dealings with Jim. I would love to get a qualified opinion from anyone other than the judgmental Mikken.

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