Pet shop owner must pay $34,000 to get animals back

Almost 400 animals confiscated from Fish Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS - The owner of an Indianapolis pet shop appeared in court Wednesday morning to face accusations he failed to care for hundreds of animals.

Judge David Certo ordered a $33,972 bond for Bill Houston of Fish Bowl Pet Supplies.

Last week, Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Officers confiscated almost 400 animals at the pet shop after an inspection revealed dead fish and lizards, dirty cages and tanks without proper water and oxygen levels.

Houston has three days to pay for bonding, or the animals are forfeited to the city, according to IACC administrator Dan Shackle.

Houston is also facing $1.4 million in fines for the 581 care and treatment citations.

Wednesday afternoon before court, he told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney he is low on funds.

"I guess I will go to jail, because I don't have any money," Houston said. "All I have is volunteers who are trying to help."

Bonding is used to offset the costs incurred by Indianapolis Animal Care and Control by having to care for the hundreds of animals confiscated from the pet shop, who are now being housed at the city shelter on South Harding Street.

IACC Deputy Chief Marcus Brown told RTV6 it's possible Houston could pay bonding for specific animals.

Houston is scheduled for a trial on April 10.

He is also scheduled for a code enforcement hearing Thursday at 1 p.m. on his license to operate as a pet shop, which is currently suspended.

During Wednesday's hearing, Houston's attorney pointed out Houston had been in business for 45 years and said Houston is petitioning the court to get his animals returned.

Because the fish were difficult to transport, the fish remain at the pet shop, but IACC staff continue to monitor them.

IACC Deputy Chief Marcus Brown testified at least 200 animals, mostly fish, have died since last week.

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