PLYMOUTH BOROUGH, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The owners of a Luzerne County pet store that is the focus of an SPCA investigation are speaking out as they insist they did nothing wrong.
Eyewitness News was the first to tell you about the SPCA seizure of hundreds of animals, including more than 100 reptiles at Great 8 Reptiles in Plymouth.
Investigators say the conditions inside the store were deplorable.
Eyewitness News I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick spoke with the owners of the store on Wednesday. They say did not neglect their animals and vow to have them returned.
“Everybody’s saying that nobody was here taking care of the animals, of which they were, my wife was here taking care of the animals every day,” said Syelechia Solis, the owner of Great 8 Reptiles.
Syelechia Solis and his wife Jennifer own Great 8 Reptiles on Main Street in Plymouth. They insist they are not animal abusers.
The SPCA removed more than 100 reptiles, 200 pet rats, two dozen mice, and eight cats from their shop.
Animal investigators say they found dead rats, animal feces, and trash in the store, and the place had a terrible odor.
The SPCA Received a tip about the condition from Cameron English.
English owns an exotic pet store, CDE Exotics in Wilkes-Barre, and was actually called by the Solis’ to take the rats.
English saw the conditions, alerted the SPCA, and sent photos to investigators, but the Solises insist the conditions of the store were not that bad.
“So when they get here, they throw everything on the floor, and take video footage, and send it to the SPCA, saying this is how we were living, saying the reptiles had no water, saying there was dead animals. There was a couple of dead rats in the rat cages, but that’s why we wanted him to take care of them. The male rats were killing the other male rats,” said Syelechia.
English tells the I-Team he has had business dealing with the Solis’ in the past and was going to try to help.
But when he saw the conditions inside the store, conditions he describes as horrendous, he had no choice but to call in the SPCA.
“The majority of the photos that we took I don’t know if any of them were actually after we moved cages around but we did we had to move cages around to get the animals out of there in the condition they were in. The photos told the truth,” explained English.
The Solis’ say they will fight to get their animals returned.
“I’m getting all my animals back, not the rats, but obviously, I want them to go into better homes, all my reptiles, they were taken care of completely,” added Jennifer.
Charges have not been filed in this investigation.
“This is an ongoing investigation. If charges are filed in this case the owners will have their day in court. We have faith in the justice system,” stated Todd Hevner, Executive Director of the Luzerne County SPCA.
Syelechia Solis was incarcerated at the Luzerne County Prison in recent weeks in connection with a drug arrest and says that his absence helped lead to the problems with the pet rats.
Again, the SPCA says they had to remove all the animals at this point in time.