SHAKOPEE, Minn - Members of a Minnesota animal rescue group are calling for the closure of the Eagle Pet Center, a downtown Shakopee pet store. The Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley says it receives a high number of complaints on the business every month.
Tania Richter, of Ruff Start Rescue, also owns a downtown Shakopee business, and has been concerned about the conditions inside for years.
"I've had customers come into my store and children crying because of the conditions of the animals," said Richter. "I would say the conditions are inhumane and horrific as bad as you are picturing it in your mind, it is far worse."
She posted photos on a Facebook page, which has 2,000 likes.
She fears the animals are in greater danger this week, with a lack of air conditioning in the summer heat. Owner Ed Dressen acknowledges that he turns off the air conditioning to save money, but he says the animals are still in good conditions.
Richter sees it another way, as she looked into the cages of cats, birds, rabbits and rats.
"The rat cages are extremely overcrowded they are covered in feces, and the fish tanks are so thick with algae you can see there are barely fish in these tanks," said Richter.
The Animal Humane Society says they've issue repeated requests to improve conditions, but it's all they can do.
"He is either unable or unwilling to comply but by the same token the conditions we have observed also do not rise to what I think would be a standard of criminal intervention," said Keith Streff, a senior humane investigator. He says public attention could put pressure on the owner.
"Hopefully this will change his attitude or he will go out of business, both of which are in our favor," said Streff.
The City of Shakopee says they have no code that requires the owner to clean up the store. The state board of Animal Health tells KARE 11 they have no way to inspect it either.
Richter says a voice is all she can offer.
"Animals can't speak for themselves it's our job as compassionate human beings to step in," said Richter. "How do we have a system in place that protects animals in situations like this?"