GRANDVILLE, Mich. – The owner of a controversial business is hoping the third time is a charm, while protesters are hoping its strike three for ‘Barking Boutique,’ which sells purebreds and designer dogs.
On Sunday, dozens of protesters gathered outside the store in Grandville. It was the second time in a week demonstrators gathered at the business.
“The purchase of retail puppies comes from puppy mills and mass puppy farms,” says Tanelle McFadyen of the Humane Society of West Michigan. “There is unethical and inhumane treatment of the dogs. No reputable breeder would ever hand their dog over to a store to sell. Every reputable breeder you would go directly to and you would get the dog from them.”
Many of the protesters say responsible breeders have their place but they just don’t believe any reputable breeder would have their name associated with a pet store.
“Me personally I worked for the animal shelter 20 years ago. I have euthanized a lot of healthy puppies and kittens because there was no place for them,” said local veterinarian Dr. Doug Clarke. “There’s a huge pet over population problem in this country. Nobody is against responsible breeding. But every pet bought from this establishment is one less that is going to get adopted.”
David Boelkes says he has tried opening ‘The Barking Boutique’ at the Lakes Mall in Muskegon and the Woodland Mall without success, and says he wants to be transparent in his puppy process and encourages people to ask questions about where the dogs come from.
“They think they have to be coming from bad places because we are a pet store,” says Boelkes. “So it’s just like any industry, there are bad players and good players, that’s all.”
Boelkes says he invites anyone with concerns to come into his store and discuss them with him. He says he’s also happy to give tours and show videos of the facilities where he gets his dogs.
Since the grand opening on Thursday, the store has sold six puppies, which cost about $2,000 each.