SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A Sevierville pet shop owner is responding to claims that the exotic animals in her store are abused and neglected, saying the allegations are false.
A Facebook page claiming Exotic Pets Center on Winfield Dunn Parkway is mistreating animals has almost 800 likes as of Friday evening and was just created this week.
Owner Ellen Perez told 6 News that the claims are false and that the pictures are shown out of context.
6 News cameras recorded video inside the shop and saw no signs of neglect or abuse.
"I welcome them to come out here just as you have come and see for themselves," Perez said.
Perez has owned the shop for around 10 years and said she fully complies with state regulations.
Perez said she was shocked to learn about the Facebook page claiming there have been dead animals found inside the cages and that animals were forced to live in several inches deep of feces.
"Everything has food and water, toys, treats the needs of any given species are met," Perez said. "We have nothing to hide."
The Sevier County Humane Society said it has received multiple complaints about the store and said while it never saw any signs of the shop breaking the law, the organization felt conditions should still be improved.
"The law and what our standards are sometimes vary," president of the Sevier County Humane Society Sally Worden said. "We've had multiple dialogues with these people about cleaning up this facility."
Perez said she encourages animals rights activists to speak up against abuse and believes most of the commenters on the page have the right intentions, but feels her business has been unfairly targeted.
Perez said there have been posts encouraging people to rob the store which Perez said put her family in harms way.
"I've never seen or experienced anything as horrible as this, the threats to the family and the awful untruths," Perez said. "It's become quite scary."
According to the USDA, the Exotic Pets Center is USDA licensed and passed its most recent inspection without any problems.
The USDA, however, said it has received multiple written complaints about the shop.