Group protests Barking Boutique despite poor weather

The Barking Boutique, Grandville
Protesters outside The Barking Boutique in Grandville. (April 30, 2017)

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Regardless of protesters attempting to deter business, a new puppy store in Grandville says it has sold six puppies since opening on Thursday.

Sunday afternoon, around 50 protesters gathered outside of the new for-profit pet store on Wilson Avenue near Chicago Drive.

“Any dog that comes from a retail store is coming from a puppy mill or a mass breeder, because no responsible breeder, any reputable breeder, would ever take their dog and sell it to somebody else to sell,” Tanelle McFadyen, one of the protesters, said. “A reputable breeder, you go directly to. You see the owners. You see the parents of the dog and you see where they’re living, and often they don’t breed the dog until they have enough people who are going to purchase a puppy before they breed a pair.”

Store owner David Boelkes has denied getting his dogs from puppy mills, saying most of them come from breeders in Iowa that he has checked out.

“We’re against puppy mills and substandard breeders, as well. So when you come in, you can actually see our breeders that we work with, show you videos of me at the kennel,” he said.

“Adopt, don’t shop” organizations have been voicing opposition to The Barking Boutique for a year. Last summer, The Barking Boutique was kicked out of the Woodland Mall in less than a week because of the public backlash to the store. An attempt to open in The Lakes Mall near Muskegon was also unsuccessful. Eventually, despite continued opposition, he got the necessary permits to open in Grandville.

Boelkes told 24 Hour News 8 supporters urged him to keep trying.

“We’re trying to give consumers of West Michigan a choice of adopt or shop responsibly. It’s great to adopt. You know, we promote that first. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in a shelter, that’s what we’re here for,” he said.

The average price for a Barking Boutique dog runs between $1,800 and $2,600. Adopting a dog from the Kent County Animal Shelter will cost you $70, plus a licensing fee.