(WXYZ) - Dennis Jones, owner of Greenwood Pets and Plants store, was charged with animal cruelty.
Warren police raided the store on Wednesday. They say more than 100 animals were found living in deplorable conditions. They say the animals had been without food and water for days and in some cases they were crowded in cages.
When the raid first unfolded, it appeared animal cruelty was the main motivation. 7 Action News has learned debt collection may have been the real catalyst for the raid. 37th District Court Officer Paul Zalenksi has been busy attempting to sell the pet store's fish to other local pet suppliers, all to fulfil a court order to collect $2,200 from Jones.
"Those fish, the valuable ones, were going to make the sale worthwhile." said Zalenski, "The rest of the fish were going to go with them."
On top of that, Zalenski says while he was away on other business Thursday afternoon, someone entered the store and took several hundred dollars worth of exotic fish--a big reason why most local pet stores are passing up on what's left of the inventory.
"Greenwood Pets and Plant store has become a house of horrors," says Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.
Police were back at the pet store on Thursday executing another search warrant.
Investigators say they first went to the store on Wednesday after learning that it didn't have power or water for at least a week since the store's owner hadn't paid his bills.
7 Action News has learned Dennis Jones was charged last year with animal cruelty in a separate case involving a goat. Today, Jones said that case will go to trial this month.
"I've been to all the court hearings and I look forward to defending my company in court," Jones said today.
Jones' friends were in court today to defend him. They say he's a good guy who just got overwhelmed and had too much on his plate.
"[The situation is] unsettling," said Jones' mother Mona Jones, "But Dennis is out of jail, and that's the main thing." Mona Jones says with her son now out of jail, she hopes he can salvage some part of the family business her late husband built years ago.
Some of the surviving animals are being cared for at the Parkway vet clinic in Clinton Township, but investigators say a few of the animals from the Greenwood pet store did not survive.
"He should never be in charge of any live animal ... probably not even plants," says Mayor Fouts.