Exotic pet store owners say they are doing everything right - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Exotic pet store owners say they are doing everything right

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A local publication has brought a new pet shop into question. Downunder Reef Pet Shop is new to Elkhart and concerns are being raised about if they're complying with city ordinances when it comes to the animals they house.

Owners Anna Morrow and Jessica Achberger say they are doing everything right to their knowledge. Downunder Reef is new to the area, but they aren't new to the business. 

"We're doing the same thing that we've done in the last two years, it's just in another city," says Morrow.

They had a store in Granger for two years and in June moved after they realized most of their business was around Elkhart. "We're not hiding anything," says Morrow.

Questions have came up about if this new pet shop is complying with city codes on their animals, but these owners say they've met all city requirements. "Our ducks are in a row, we've always taken the provisions to making sure we have the licensing," says Achberger. 

FOX28 talked to the city's law office about this. They confirmed that the pet store has proper licenses for running a pet shop in Elkhart. Deputy city attorney Jonathan Long says, "Both the police department and the city are aware of the potential of exotic animals."

"We breed and sale savannah cats and Bengal cats and sugar gliders," says Achberger.

The owners say they're also USDA licensed, which allows them to have unique animals. While they say their animals look exotic, they say they all are USDA approved. "We wanted to be a little different than you're average pet shop, we wanted to specialize in certain areas," says Morrow.

They say they are open to discussion with Animal Control or the city. And if they find out they are doing something wrong, they say they will make changes. In the meantime, they'll continue with business as usual. "We did this for the love of the animals. We're going to continue doing it cause we love the animals so much," says Morrow.

The city says that the process for applying for a license is pretty simple and there is no inspection included. When owners apply they give their word that they will comply with city ordinances, so the law offices never had a reason to doubt in the past. Long says they are in the preliminary stages of gathering information on the pet shop and their animals.

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