ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - A local pet store has had its fair share of problems.
After being on Animal Welfare's radar for what they describe as ‘filthy and dangerous conditions,' it now appears the store has been operating without a valid business permit for months.
Desert Reef and Exotics is no stranger to controversy. KRQE News 13 reported back in January that the popular pet store on Eubank near Lomas has had many Animal Welfare violations.
At the time, owner JT Daniels admitted to what he called 'minor problems.'
"It's such an old building, I did have an issue with roaches and stuff," said Daniels.
But, he's still operating the shop -- with a business permit that expired 15 months ago, according to city officials.
His business license was also officially revoked by Animal Welfare on Monday, July 9, which he's now appealing.
KRQE News 13 asked the city why the store is still open.
"Until it goes to court and a judge deems whether it needs to close, or not, and it can stay open, that's who would be making the decision at this point," said the city's Planning Department spokesperson Carmelina Hart.
That means the store can stay open during the legal battle -- and an expired business permit doesn't mean he has to shut his doors. Hart says it's his responsibility to keep it current. Otherwise, there's a $10 fine.
"It is really up to the business to stay in compliance with the city," said Hart.
All of that despite violations reported by Animal Welfare, including improper disposal of animals, a dead betta fish, and feces on shelves across the store.
Daniels told KRQE News 13 those claims aren't true.
He declined an on-camera interview, but says he's being unfairly targeted by an Animal Welfare officer. He also says the department hasn't been back to inspect his store since last year.
Daniels says he'll continue to defend his store -- and now he'll have to, in district court.
Animal Welfare says Desert Reef faces eight violations and its last inspection was in November 2017. The department declined to comment further because of the appeal.