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Queens Chronicle

Maspeth pet shop animals removed

Owners given three summonses

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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:13 am, Thu Mar 27, 2014.

Despite repeated complaints of animal abuse from neighbors, the owners of the Fresh Pond Pet Shop in Maspeth have not been arrested nor has the store been officially shut down.

According to Det. Thomas Bell, the 104th Precinct issued three summonses to the owners, Efron Martinez and Kimberly Ruiz on March 8, for failing to display a business certificate, failing to produce a valid permit and failing to provide proof that they completed a course.

On March 12, the police responded to an abuse complaint at the shop, but Bell said that in the few minutes he was there he did not observe any abuse.

Nearby residents described tanks so filthy they could not see fish swimming in them, dogs and cats deprived of food and water and a husky trapped in a cage too small for it to stand up.

The police say all the animals were removed from the store at some point between March 12 and Monday. Bell does not know when specifically, nor where the animals were taken.

The majority of the animals were removed, but neighbors say that some remained in the store, without food, water and care for five days.

Sally Keller, who lives across the street from the store, said one of her neighbors saw a woman removing a cat from the premises in a carrier around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, after the police reported all the animals were gone.

The next morning, Keller tried to confront the person, but claims the woman physically pushed her out of the way. She peered into the store and saw dead fish floating in their tanks. Keller believes the fish were disposed of before the police arrived.

Angela Connell said the last of the animals were removed in the middle of Monday night, so none were left when the police returned on Tuesday.

“If this were handled properly, animals could’ve been saved by the ASPCA,” Connell said. “The 104th Precinct messed everything up.”

Connell fears that the owners will bring the animals back in the middle of the night at some point in the future and resume operations.

“People are very upset,” she said. “Who knows what they did with that husky? It’s probably in a crate rotting to death.”

Many neighbors want to know where the animals are now.

Connell said that one man purchased a great Dane from the store because the owners were keeping it in a shoebox-sized cage. The dog was unable to stand and could not walk for several months.

“These people prey on your emotions,” Connell said. “The public has no choice but to buy and rescue these animals. The more stories I hear, the more unfathomable it is that this could continue.”

“This is a bad time for anything like this to happen,” an animal activist who asked to remain anonymous said, explaining that the Police Department recently partnered with the ASPCA and now respond to animal abuse complaints.

“It’s a shame,” Keller said. “The animals who can’t talk for themselves pay the price.”

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  • Susan Davis posted at 3:55 pm on Thu, Mar 20, 2014.

    Susan Davis Posts: 4

    It would help greatly if there were a specific hotline number through the NYPD that people could call with animal cruelty complaints. These officers would be trained to deal with situations like this. I don't think there is a such a thing at this time, at least the public is not aware of it. This should be done immediately with the help of the ASPCA as animal cruelty is something that happens every second of every day!

  • Susan Davis posted at 3:41 pm on Thu, Mar 20, 2014.

    Susan Davis Posts: 4

    Thank you so much for following up on this very important issue! It's really important that Kimberly Ruiz and Efrain Martinez are prohibited from ever working with animals again, they clearly aren't willing to give the animals the time, care and attention that they need, nor do they care who ends up with these animals! If they didn't even have a license how could Kimberly Ruiz say that she "thought" the paper work was taken care of? She had to know she didn't have a license, not to mention that they are required by law to display it! Ruiz is mocking the law and the intelligence of the community and should not get away with this! She is due in court on May 27th and I HOPE the Judge will refuse to give her license to operate any business with live animals! I found the 104th precinct to be very cooperative, they can only operate within the confines of the law, and laws concerning animals really suck!