Barking Boutique prepares third debut amid continued opposition

Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 18:37:30-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- Grandville Plaza is set to be the new home of Barking Boutique. Owner David Boelkes is preparing to open up shop and sell what's called 'designer breeds'.

This will be his third effort to open this business in West Michigan. Community backlash caused the first two openings to fall short. Last year, the Lakes Mall in Muskegon backed out of a deal just before the grand opening. Months later, Woodland Mall evicted the shop within a week.

"So I spent the last 6 to 9 months meeting with my opposition, learning and understanding what it really is," Boelkes said.

He continued, "We come to understand that we want some of the same things and that's transparency for people to get their pets, and that's what we're trying to offer."

However, the same controversy is following the shop to Grandville. Opponents reached out to FOX 17. Animal advocate Tanelle McFadyen is organizing protests.

"We're very passionate here about donating, volunteering, fostering, advocating for rescues, spay and neuter. I just don't see how he hasn't understood at this point that this type of business is not welcome here," McFadyen said of West Michigan.

Grandville resident Mark Martin started a petition on in opposition to business.

"No reputable breeder would sell their breeders through a reputable establishment," Martin said.

Martin claimed the boutique wasn't transparent with its records on the pups during its stint at Woodland Mall.

"In fact, several of them were purchased by the Bissell Foundation after the store closed and were found to be underweight and not in good health," Martin said.

Boelkes said, "I can't speak to the ones that left out of my possession that weren't healthy because when they were in my possession they were healthy."

He said his dogs come directly from USDA breeders and that he's visited with them.

"Every single time, we see the adult dogs, their health, their conditions, their socializations yards," he explained.

"We see everything," Boelkes said, "There's nothing hidden."

He said his business is ethical, has high standards, and meets a demand.

Boelkes explained, "Until you actually see what we do, like walk in and see the breeders we work with and how we do it, the steps we take [then] you're going to have a perception that's been painted on us."

He continued, "But people who have been in our store and saw how we treated the animals and saw how we worked them can really speak to that and have spoke to that so far."

Boelkes also said he wants to work with local rescues on getting those dogs adopted out.

Opponents said USDA-certified isn't necessarily a good thing, that the USDA has low standards, and essentially allow puppy mills. McFadyen said she's planning a protest, and opponents also plan to attend the Grandville City Council meeting on Monday night.

Boelkes said he also plans to meet with city council members.