Pet shop owner speaks out after officials confiscate hundreds of animals living in squalid conditions

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A long-time near east side business was closed Thursday after animal inspectors found nearly 600 care and treatment violations. Officers confiscated birds, dogs, cats, lizards and mice from the Fish Bowl Pet Store, 2101 E. Michigan Street. Thousands of fish remained inside due to logistical reasons.

pet shop 2The owner of the pet store told Fox 59 it has been very overwhelming. Bill Houston said he’s worked hard to do good business.

“Work is never done in a pet shop,” said Bill Houston, who’s been opening his doors for 45 years. “There are a lot of things we did right but they’re not up to par today I guess.”

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control got a complaint last week about the below par conditions. Animal inspectors found hundreds of dead animals — mostly lizards and fish — and other pets in cages standing and eating in their own feces.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control Administrator, Daniel Shackle, said he was shocked.

“It smells bad and you know things are wrong. Water tanks for the fish are dirty and clouded. There’s dead fish on top of the tanks,” he said.

Stacks of pictures from their first inspection showed it all. Shackle said things didn’t get much better when they returned days later.

Houston said he and his employees did their best to add another ventilation system and clean all their cages. They just didn’t have enough shop 1

“He gave me 48 hours,” said Houston. “Although we clean [the cages] while we’re here, you’ve got 14 hours a day when we’re not here. The dogs can sleep in their mess.”

As Houston sat, watching what he’s built for the past four decades taken away, he wants his customers to know, he’s tried.

“We always have room for improvement, always,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me, but I guess I was wrong because I’m losing all my pets.”

The Department of Code Enforcement suspended the Fish Bowl Pet Shop’s license.

IACC said the store has been cited for violations in the past. They will be bringing a veterinarian Friday to check to see if the fish are being taken care of properly.

Houston is scheduled to make his first court appearance next week.


  • Can't resist it

    Here Leezard, Leezard, Leezard!

    *Yes, I do know how to spell Lizard, Thor!
    It just looks better with the 'ee' effect. LOL

  • stop the Ignorence

    at still born u probably live in Giest somewhere but until you have been in the not so ritzy part of Indianapolis . Shut UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FutureIsOnUs

    14 hours a day with NO CARE??? I wish a judge could lock him up 24 hours a day and let him "lay in his mess" 23.5 of it!!!! Where can these poor pets be adopted at?

    • Aggravated

      they didnt let him finish his story he was trying to say if he had animals cages that didnt have the holes in the bottom the dogs would crap everywhere and they would be laying in it while we were closed! we cant clean the mess up if we are not there….right? dont talk shit about situations you don't know about. they were telling him that the cages weren't up to code anymore. they were fine last yr but now they have a problem… and its being fixed!

      • Shame on u

        Why didn't u stay and clean everything u r just as guilty as him how would u feel if u were them animals u r probably starved tem lizards poor animals.

  • J

    I grew up with this pet shop and am sad to see it go………if the community would have known we would have pulled together and came through………bless you Bill I hope you get through this.

    • what?

      i'm so happy to see at least one positive comment. the guy doesn't look like a bad guy at all.. i don't think he would've done this on purpose. people always gotta get ont negative side of things. 😦

    • guest

      ive been in the pet shop an bought from bill, my pets was all fine..sorry bill you had someone lied bout your store…god bless ya bill

  • joel m

    i know for a fact that they do the best they can and you that think its a shame that they have 14 hrs a day with no are are you going to live in a pet store and take care of all the animals 24/7 you need to remember uncle bills petco and petsmart do the same thing they are closed for 12 hours or more daily the hours are usualy 9-9 at those places which leaves 12 hrs with no care and then sundat they close at 5-6 then dont reopen toll 9 am which is over 14 hrs dumb
    that they pick on small business but overlook the same issues at bigger stores hell the animals are in cages but not new cages i challenge anyone to pove they use new cages all the time

    • MDumass

      Hey, Joel. Petsmart does NOT leave dogs in cages (and think it's ok to sleep in their own filth). In fact, Petsmart does not SELL DOGS. They bring in RESCUE GROUPS that have dogs up for adoption. This old man is in it for the money and I can't believe he's subjected dogs and cats to FOUR DECADES of cruelty. You are an IDIOT.

      • amandaakapoemployee

        My grandfather dose NOT make the animals sleep in their own mess(we have grates in the cages they potty on) this is slander an there is nothing nor has there ever been any type of cruel or maliscious acts towards any of the animals or customers EVER !!!! shame on you my grandfather is a great man who helps every one he is the type of man who gives the shirt off his back for those who need it more than him ! i wish u only met him ! everyone in the neighborhood an my family is coming to help a little community service would probably do you some good !

      • joe customer

        they do sell cats and they also have had several instances where i been there and seen dead fish in the tanks and i have seen it in ALL petstores he is NOT in it for the $ if he was he would be jacking up all his prices and he doesnt

  • lee

    jeni i want to let you know if i and several others have anything to do with it the animals will all be returned to bill and the petshop hell retails did worse and had the animals returned and still in business so it proves the city is just trying to end small business

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    On one hand, I feel for the owner. Code enforcement wings of cities are usually run by small dick men with complex problems and feel the need to flex their tiny muscles.

    On the other hand…dude…c'mon! You can't leave mammals locked up like that for a long time! Hello puppy mill!

    But then again…a vet to examine fish!? Please! After the code people and vets look at the fish they probably went to Konan Jacks for a fish lunch.

    • animal lover

      They let puppies run for 2 hrs every morning. altso when people wan't to look at them itis all day long.

  • new2in

    Did anyone notice that there were hundreds of dead animals in that store? They didn't die because they were being taken care of. He may be a "good guy" and go to church every Sunday and volunteer at the soup kitchen, but he needs to have a business that doesn't involve living creatures.

    • p.o employee

      first off it was fish an a small lizard an we got our fish order in that day so of course some fish from California an Florida did not survive it happens when we have weather like this even when its warm fish die its a long trip to be in a dark bag. i would go into shock myself if i were a fish . Atleaste my grandfather is not selling puppies from puppy mills like some other pet stores! he tried hard an as an employee i feel bad for not doing more . also we have 127 fish tanks so of course there was a few dead fish on the day we got our order in !

  • MDumass

    "The dogs can sleep in their mess." SHAME ON YOU OLD MAN!!!! I hope you end up in a nursing home lying in your own filth dependent on others for your food and water so you can see what it's like!!

    • dee

      no shame on u hes a good person and we still in this bitch i hope u lay in a nursing home n i dont wish that on noboby go fuk urself love u bill u will get threw this

  • David

    I have been to this pet store before. It is the only one close to downtown. I remember this pet store as a kid. I hope that one day it will reopen

  • MDumass

    "The dogs can sleep in their mess." SHAME ON YOU OLD MAN!!!! I hope you end up in a nursing home lying in your own filth dependent on others for your food and water so you can see what it's like!!

  • bourbon

    It's bout time me and my husband bought fish from that pet store and they all died I told my husband that they didn't take good care of their animals it was always dirty in the pet shop never seen anyone cleaning nothing We will never ever shop there again I'm so glad animal control took all his pets they need to adopt after they r all check out they could have infections or disease from their own mess poor animals.

  • effin_fedup

    "hundreds of dead animals on the premises" they say…"hundreds of animals confiscated" they say…damn..just how many animals were in this tiny little place? Thousands?

    • dee

      the news lied they want the buliding cuz superbowl can come here now and they wanna turn it in2 something else they found 1 dead lizard

  • Heather Cooper

    i'm going to call tomorrow if bill needs anything i'll help. if you guys need help cleaning the place or anything really i'm there it's a damn shame. see you guys tomorrow.

  • sad

    Bill, great person. Alex, probably should be less worried about the shit she is and more worried about her grandfathers living being the employees are all his grandkids you guys should be ashamed. I would never ever let any thing happen like this to a man whom has given me as much as this man has them sad part is I bet the person who called only called because they were pissed off about something you did. Or maybe your boyfriend did it so you would have to work more to pay for a habit… either way I sincerely hope this is a lesson to the Grand kids that your free ride us up and you must now look to god for the answers that you are eagerly hoping find in the pit of addiction.

  • shameonthefamily

    Where were all you defenders when his shop was going under & becoming more than he could handle?

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