[UPDATE] A “Puppy Boutique” Opening In Michigan Mall Sparks Outrage

[UPDATE]: The Barking Boutique is no more!

After a quiet opening failed to dodge public outrage, The Barking Boutique had their lease cancelled by the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, MI after just four days of being in business.

The Woodland Mall issued a statement on the heels of thousands of complaints on their Facebook page, protests in the mall, and larger protests being planned by rescue organizations around Michigan, letting customers know that the store was on its way out.

“Woodland Mall highly values the voices of this community. After evaluating shopper concerns, we have come to the decision to part ways with The Barking Boutique. Our customers are our highest priority and it is imperative to us that Woodland Mall remains a destination where shoppers feel comfortable spending their time.”


Barking Boutique owner David Boelkes was given 72 hours to close the store as of Friday, July 8th. Boelkes has started a GoFundMe page to help cover his financial losses, which he claims approach $70,000, including over $30,000 to build the storefront and special fixtures for the store. He issued a response to the protests and petitions through the news and his personal GoFundMe.

“These activists created a social media backlash, based on rumors, completely ignoring the facts of my store,” said Boelkes in the news release. “We held ourselves to the highest standards of humane animal treatment and transparency. This action reinforces the shelter cartel’s monopoly on dog retail, and their common practice of trafficking dogs into Michigan from southern states and other unknown origin.”

This is the second store Boelkes has tried to open in Michigan this year. The previous spot in The Lakes Mall in the Muskegon, MI was also pulled before opening due to a similar response from the community.

Thank you to everyone who let their voices be heard in an effort to stop the store!

You can read the original story below.

There is no shortage of reasons why puppy mills should be abolished. Puppy mill breeding practices are cruel and often abusive, lead to long-term health and behavioral issues, and contribute to the thousands of animals in shelters that are in desperate need of homes. Sadly, puppy stores and “designer” dogs are still alive and well. The issue is once more being brought into the light with the opening of The Barking Boutique in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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The Barking Boutique offers “designer puppies,” some being sold for upwards of $4,000. While owner David Boelkes defends his business and claims to only use “reputable” breeders, there is no oversight to validate his claims. Opposition has been fierce, leading to an under-the-radar approach to the boutique opening. The store was set to open in nearby Muskegon, but the outrage after the initial wave of advertising led him to shut down, slink to a new location, and open without any type of advertising, blindsiding the citizens of Grand Rapids.

Boelkes claims that the stealth opening was to “…get in and get the puppies acquainted to the cribs, get our staff trained and ready.” However, public outcry on the Woodland Mall Facebook page has been swift and intensely passionate. Among the detractors is Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan. Despite Boelkes insistence that the dogs are from USDA approved breeders, Sordyl has pointed out, very vocally, that such standards are nearly useless.

“It’s really ‘buyer beware’ for anyone that buys these dogs,” said Sordyl. “We don’t know what the store standards are. We know the USDA standards are minimal. They’re survival standards only, and that’s what we call puppy mills.”

Protests are being organized, and those opposed are encouraged to contact the Woodland Mall and encourage them to remove The Barking Boutique.

Spread the word and help these magnificent creatures! ☟

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