Barking Boutique debated at packed Grandville city council meeting

Posted at 10:14 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 22:17:32-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- A hotly debated business took center stage Monday night at the Grandville city council meeting, with many people hoping to shut it down for a third time.

The Barking Boutique, a pet store that wants to sell purebred and designer dogs, wasn't on the meeting agenda, but there was a packed house to discuss it.

The store has tried to open twice. 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.

"It's been really frustrating because it's a minority voice speaking out for the public," said Barking Boutique owner David Boelkes. "We've had tons of people reach out to me after we closed wishing that we were still open."

Boelkes says his reason for opening up is to give people in West Michigan a choice for responsibly bred purebred dogs. The planned Grandville store would be located in Grandville Plaza.

"We have all the documentation, clean USDA gene inspection reports. We definitely don't work with sub-standard breeders."

But many people are against the store, and claim that the dogs are from puppy mills and irresponsible breeders. They say that adopting pets from a shelter is a better way to go.

"A reputable breeder will not sell to a third party," said Sonnie Bryant-Bedard, a Grandville resident who is against the Barking Boutique. "A reputable breeder will research the people purchasing the animal.  And there's a waiting list for that, to make sure it's a good family match. No reputable breeder will sell to a third party like that."

"We know they are from puppy mills," said Pam Sordyl with Puppy Mill Awareness for South East Michigan. "Because he's provided breeder information. He's had a chance to prove that he's working with reputable breeders and they were not, so he's misled us and he's lost our trust."

Grandville Mayor Steve Maas said The Barking Boutique passed the city's requirement factors for licensing a business and opening up the store.

Boelkes says he plans to open up at the end of April.  He says he's offered to do a "hybrid business" model and have some rescue dogs in his store, but says the organizations he reached out to declined.

Those against the store have signed an online petition and say they plan on immediately protesting once The Barking Boutique opens its doors.