Dark, dank and in need of serious repair, Eagle Pet Center is the source of controversy among Shakopee pet lovers. Even the mayor won't shop there.
Lots of folks say the store exhibits plenty of concerning problems, but as for shutting it down, police and city leaders tell FOX 9 News their hands are tied.
Eagle Pet Center sells rats, mice, bunnies and fish -- and people can smell the store on North 1st Avenue from down the street. The Shakopee store's ceiling is leaking, and there is no air conditioning in there. Owner Ed Dressen told FOX 9 News he's well within his right to run the store on bare bones basics, and though city leaders admit they don't like it, they say Dressen is right.
"It's been this way for about 15 years," Tania Richter, an animal lover who also works Ruff Start Rescue -- an animal rescue agency, told FOX 9 News.
Richter started a Facebook page against the shop Thursday morning. Already, Richter has gained more than 4,000 likes. Richter even paid Dressen a visit.
"I offered him the opportunity to surrender the animals and to work with adoption, foster, rescue groups," Richter said. "He declined and then started to tell me how he can have people arrested for trespassing."
When FOX 9 arrived to Eagle Pet Center, Dressen wasn't interested in an on-camera interview. He said he's been running the Pet Center successfully for 42 years, but he admits he's been "investigated 10 ways to Sunday." He said he'll fix the ceiling once the roof is dry, and he added that once someone hands him $600, he'll air condition the shop.
"Yesterday it was $500 for him to have the air running. So, now today, it's $600," noted Richter.
It was 88 degrees inside the Eagle Pet Center when Dressen told FOX 9 News he believes that if he can handle the heat, his animals can, too.
Dressen said he sells two to three dozen rats a week. Fish and aquarium supplies make up the bulk of his business, which he considers "strong."
The Animal Humane Society has been taking complaints and launching investigations since 2009.
"I would love to go in there, seize all his animals, and lock up the place -- but I don't have the statutory authority or tools to do that," insists Keith Streff, the Senior Humane Investigator with AHS. "To date, [Dressen] has been very stubborn and seems to only want to operate at the bare minimum requirement."
The bottom line? Running a dark, smelly, old pet store that needs major renovation is not illegal.
People like Richter plan on continuing to apply pressure. In fact, Richter says a community protest is planned for this weekend.
Meanwhile, Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke suggests voting with your wallet.
"That's what I've done. I haven't purchased anything in a while. It's not the cleanest place ever and it's not a place where I choose to do business, and that's okay," stated Tabke.
Tabke told FOX 9 he purchased a fish bowl for his daughter from Eagle Pet Center once. That was two years ago, and he hasn't been back since.
The Minnesota Federation of Humane Societies told FOX 9 they plan to seek a search warrant from Scott County District Court next week in the hopes of seizing and removing all live animals from Eagle Pet Center.
NOTE: A previous version of this story associated investigator Keith Streff with the Minnesota Humane Society. MHS is not connected to this case and has no investigative authority.