Woodland Mall targeted with boycott over new pet store

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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.

Woodland Mall Facebook comment

Woodland Mall Facebook comment

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."

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  • Rick

    If you don’t like the Barking Boutique don’t shop there. It is a legal business. The Mall shouldn’t be BULLIED by people who don’t like what they are selling. Go downtown GR and protest the prositutes and human trafficers.

    • Patrick

      Totally agree with you 100%. Im tired of people (protesters) telling me where I can and cannot shop or what I can and cannot do. Woodland Mall should stand their ground and let them stay. You protesters make me sick!!

  • Deb Lewis

    From the ASPCA “There is no legal definition of a “puppy mill,” so don’t be fooled by pet store owners who show you “papers” or licenses to prove that their dogs are from humane sources. The fact is, responsible breeders would never sell a puppy through a pet store because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure their puppies are going to a good home.”

    As a dog trainer of 23+ years, I have addressed the issues facing pet store puppies, the most common being serious house breaking issues. Even if the puppies are taken out during business hours, there is no one there to let them out between 9pm and 10am when the store is closed. Puppies are forced to urinate and deficate where they eat and sleep. Another issue is socially challenged puppies due to them missing a critical social imprinting window. Puppies are denied being able to bond to a new human pack. They are gawked at and handled by numerous different people…no one or no place no call home. By the time most are adopted, they have already missed this important window of trust and bonding. Last but not least, as the ASPCA pointed out, NO reputable breeder would even consider selling their puppies to a pet store! These puppies come from puppy mills, no doubt about it!! A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs….just like pet stores that sell puppies. It is all about the high and mighty dollar, not about the well being of the animals! Many puppy mill puppies have serious health and behavioral issues, not to mention the deplorable conditions and treatment of the breeding dogs producing litter after litter of puppies at these puppy mills.

    Dog owners/lovers, we are the voice for these animals! Please speak out in defence of these innocent fur babies. Call the mall and let them know you will not shop there unless the Barking Boutique is closed down.

    • Joe

      You should be ashamed of yourself. Your OPINION is not asked for nor needed. Dont shop there if you dont want to but to try to protest and force the hand of the mall is an absolute bully move like a typical high school bully.
      You claim to be protecting the furry pets, but who will protect this country from people like you.

  • Steve

    Whats next??
    Regulating people who want to have babies?
    The people who are threatening a boycott are plain and simply bullies.