Woodland Mall to ‘part ways’ with controversial designer puppy store

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KENTWOOD, Mich. — Following a social media uproar and an online petition to boycott the mall, a controversial designer puppy store will no longer be operating inside Woodland Mall.

Post on Woodland Mall's Facebook page on Saturday.

Post on Woodland Mall's Facebook page on Saturday.

The mall announced Saturday on its Facebook page it would be 'parting ways' with The Barking Boutique, which sells purebred and so-called designer dogs, some priced as high as $4,000. Some animal rights supporters claimed the store is a 'puppy mill.'

You raised your voice and we listened. We love being part of this community and after evaluating your concerns, we have decided to part ways with The Barking Boutique. We hope all our shoppers continue to enjoy their experience at Woodland Mall.

The store was originally set to open at The Lakes Mall in Norton Shores back in May, but quietly opened at Woodland last Tuesday.

After just a few days of being in business, Woodland Mall's Facebook page had been filled with opposition. Many say it's a business hardly anyone knew was coming to the area.

The store's owner, David Boelkes, told FOX 17 that transparency is key, and those in opposition are misinformed.

"We’re here for that family that’s looking for a pure breed or purpose-bred dog in a transparent way," Boelkes told FOX 17 earlier in the week.

In a statement released Saturday evening, a representative for the store said the decision to terminate the lease came from the mall's corporate management who "capitulated to the bullying and intimidation tactics of privately funded, animal activists."

Boelkes said he was given 72 hours to leave the mall after being ordered on Friday to vacate the premise by close of business on July 11.

“These activists created a social media backlash, based on rumors, completely ignoring the facts of my store,” Boelkes said in a statement, adding the store had sold four puppies in the first four days of business.

“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.”

Leasing agents for the mall had encouraged Boelkes to build out the store, which cost more than $70,000 in construction and inventory, the statement said.

All families adopting from the Barking Boutique are given full visibility of the origin and pedigree of their puppy. They are given a full health and medical background, as well as comprehensive background on the breeder and puppy’s parentage. David personally met with many of his breeders to ensure and guarantee that the puppies sold in his store were raised humanely and ethically.

During the three days the Barking Boutique was open, it became an immediate draw to Woodland Mall, invigorating it with a renewed energy. More than 700 people visited The Barking Boutique each day, and the store often had more people inside than the Apple Store.

The statement also said Boelkes now faces personal bankruptcy after being forced to close. The store had employed eight people and eight puppies remain in need of a home, the statement said.

As of Sunday night, all of the remaining puppies have been sold. The boutique has a Go Fund Me page to raise funds to offset their debt.

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9 comments

  • Sarah

    Every the owner is saying about disclosure is pretty meaningless. It’s the law to provide breeder info, vet check etc. Chapter 54 section 2140 of Animal Welfare Act: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/awa/awa.pdf

    …(1) The Secretary shall promulgate standards to govern the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals by dealers, research facilities, and exhibitors. (2) The standards described in paragraph (1) shall include minimum requirements— (A) for handling, housing, feeding, watering, sanitation, ventilation, shelter from extremes of weather and temperatures, adequate veterinary care, and separation by species where the Secretary finds necessary for humane handling, care, or treatment of animals; and (B) for exercise of dogs, as determined by an attending veterinarian in accordance with general standards promulgated by the Secretary, and for a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of primates. (3) In addition to the requirements under paragraph (2), the standards described in paragraph (1) shall, with respect to animals in research facilities, include requirements— (A) for animal care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures to ensure that animal pain and distress are minimized, including adequate veterinary care with the appropriate use of anesthetic, analgesic, tranquilizing drugs, or euthanasia; (B) that the principal investigator considers alternatives to any procedure likely to produce pain to or distress in an experimental animal; (C) in any practice which could cause pain to animals— (i) that a doctor of veterinary medicine is consulted in the planning of such procedures; (ii) for the use of tranquilizers, analgesics, and anesthetics; (iii) for pre-surgical and post-surgical care by laboratory workers, in accordance with established veterinary medical and nursing procedures; (iv) against the use of paralytics without anesthesia; and (v) that the withholding of tranquilizers, anesthesia, analgesia, or euthanasia when scientifically necessary shall continue for only the necessary period of time…

    • sarahreid63

      Dealers and exhibitors shall make and retain for such reasonable period of time as the
      Secretary may prescribe, such records with respect to the purchase, sale, transportation,
      identification, and previous ownership of animals as the Secretary may prescribe. Research
      facilities shall make and retain such records only with respect to the purchase, sale,
      transportation, identification, and previous ownership of live dogs and cats. At the request of the
      Secretary, any regulatory agency of the Federal Government which requires records to be
      maintained by intermediate handlers and carriers with respect to the transportation, receiving,

  • Jason

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t believe the mall would fold to the pressure of the humane society and their supporters. I heard a representative of the humane society on the radio Friday complaing about the boutique. It seemed as if the real issue was it was going to hurt their business. So much for equal opportunity? What they don’t seem to realize is the individuals who would purchase an animal from the boutique aren’t going to buy one from them. They want a specific breed with papers and they’ll still find a way to get one!

    • Wendy Scott

      what is your involvement with animal rescue? do you volunteer, donate or Foster? YOU need to educate yourself about the origin of the puppies, the conditions they are raised in and greed as motivation for puppy sales.