When Tania Richter saw photos on the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies Facebook page earlier this week that showed poor conditions at Eagle Pet Center in downtown Shakopee, she had enough.
On Thursday Richter founded a group on Facebook called “No more animals at Eagle Pet Center-Shakopee”. The group already has over 5,000 likes.
“The conditions at Eagle Pet Store are inhumane and horrific,” Richter said. “By all the likes on our page, I’m not the only person who is fed up by the situation.”
The purpose of the group is to provide a way for the public to pressure Dressen to give up his animals. Posts on the page include comments from people who have had negative experiences at the store, with one post showing a photo of a reportedly dead rat.
Ed Dressen, owner of the the beleaguered pet store, does not believe his animals are neglected.
“There’s nothing dead in this store,” Dressen said.
He walked through the store and pointed out the animals, showing that they were alive and well.
In addressing the fury against him, Dressen said, “I think it’s part of the [pet store] business. People like to harass pet stores.”
Investigator at the Animal Humane Society, Keith Streff, said that he has inspected the store several times since 2009. Although he wishes that Dressen would improve the store, there is nothing going on in the store that is against animal laws and statutes, Streff said.
Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate agreed that Dressen has not broken any laws. “We’ve been there numerous times with an investigator with the humane society and nothing has reached where criminal charges would be appropriate,” Tate said.
The police department has not ignored the issue, Tate added. “We’re well aware of the situation and we are monitoring it and we have subject experts who are the ones who are assisting us with these investigations.”
Streff says the situation is complex and frustrating.
“This problem is not unique to Shakopee,” he said. “There are lots of long term pet shops that have these issues in towns that don’t have the ordinances and laws to address it. If we could do more, we would.”
Part of the problem, Streff added is that “Mr. Dressen doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. We’ve instructed him and he’s not interested. It’s frustrating. We’re doing the best we can with the resources and tools and language that we have to come to a reasonable solution.”
Richter said she spoke with Dressen and suggested he surrender his animals and instead set dates for pet adoptions so that he can sell animals to customers without the expense of caring for them on his own.
Said Richter, “This isn’t just me attacking somebody. I wanted to come to him in a reasonable manner and he was unreasonable and we will continue to push forward in an appropriate and respectable manner, but we will not give up.”
She is thankful for how fast the Facebook page has grown.
“Many voices count a lot more than just mine,” Richter said, “The animals don’t have voices, so it’s our job to speak up for them.”