GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Woodland Mall has responded to one of hundreds of posts on their Facebook page protesting the opening of a pet store at the shopping center.
The Barking Boutique recently opened in the mall and has been met with outrage from animal rights supporters claiming that the store is a 'puppy mill'. You can read the hundreds of posts in the comments on the Woodland Mall Facebook page. There is also a movement underway to boycott the mall until the store is closed.
The Barking Boutique was originally set to open at The Lakes Mall in Norton Shores back in May but quietly opened at Woodland Tuesday.
The store sells purebred and so-called designer dogs, some priced as high as $4,000. The store's owner, David Boelkes, told FOX 17 that transparency is key, and those in opposition are misinformed.
But dog advocates like Kaelen Connolly say that's not enough.
"'USDA certified breeders' has about as much meaning as cage-free eggs anymore," said Connolly. "It doesn't mean too much of anything. Standards are not very high to be USDA certified breeder."
Pam Sordyl, founder of Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan, is also opposes the store's opening. She said the issue is not about pure breeds being sold, it's about the lack of transparency available to consumers.
"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."