A pet store owner who is facing more than $1 million in fines appeared in court Wednesday.
Bill Houston is accused of keeping hundreds of animals in deplorable conditions at the Fish Bowl Pet Shop.
Animal Care and Control seized nearly 400 dogs, birds, lizards and fish from the East Michigan Street business last week.
A judge ruled Houston could get all of his animals back if he is able to pay nearly $34,000 by Friday. If he’s unable to pay that bond, he will forfeit ownership to Animal Care and Control. Even if he’s able to pay by then, Houston will not be allowed to have any of the animals back until after his April 10 trial. The trial judge could also still rule that Houston can’t have the animals.
Animal Care and Control issued 581 citations to Houston following their investigation. They say they found dead fish lining the tops of aquarium tanks, animals lying in their own feces and sick and wounded lizards.
If convicted, Houston will face thousands of dollars in fines per violation.
“I don’t have any money, guess I’ll just go to jail,” Houston said as he entered the courthouse Wednesday.
Houston maintains he was trying to run a business that helped animals find loving homes. He also claims Animal Care and Control didn’t give him enough time to right the violations they had found in an earlier visit.
The Department of Code Enforcement will decide whether or not to revoke the pet shop’s license at a hearing Thursday.