Barking Boutique debated at packed Grandville city council meeting

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GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- A hotly debated business took center stage Monday night at the Grandville city council meeting, with many people hoping to shut it down for a third time.

The Barking Boutique, a pet store that wants to sell purebred and designer dogs, wasn't on the meeting agenda, but there was a packed house to discuss it.

The store has tried to open twice. Last year, the Lakes Mall in Muskegon backed out of a deal just before the grand opening. Months later, Woodland Mall evicted the shop within a week.

"It's been really frustrating because it's a minority voice speaking out for the public," said Barking Boutique owner David Boelkes. "We've had tons of people reach out to me after we closed wishing that we were still open."

Boelkes says his reason for opening up is to give people in West Michigan a choice for responsibly bred purebred dogs. The planned Grandville store would be located in Grandville Plaza.

"We have all the documentation, clean USDA gene inspection reports. We definitely don't work with sub-standard breeders."

But many people are against the store, and claim that the dogs are from puppy mills and irresponsible breeders. They say that adopting pets from a shelter is a better way to go.

"A reputable breeder will not sell to a third party," said Sonnie Bryant-Bedard, a Grandville resident who is against the Barking Boutique. "A reputable breeder will research the people purchasing the animal.  And there's a waiting list for that, to make sure it's a good family match. No reputable breeder will sell to a third party like that."

"We know they are from puppy mills," said Pam Sordyl with Puppy Mill Awareness for South East Michigan. "Because he's provided breeder information. He's had a chance to prove that he's working with reputable breeders and they were not, so he's misled us and he's lost our trust."

Grandville Mayor Steve Maas said The Barking Boutique passed the city's requirement factors for licensing a business and opening up the store.

Boelkes says he plans to open up at the end of April.  He says he's offered to do a "hybrid business" model and have some rescue dogs in his store, but says the organizations he reached out to declined.

Those against the store have signed an online petition and say they plan on immediately protesting once The Barking Boutique opens its doors.

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  • djmichaelangelo

    In case anyone wants more details, I spent a last couple hours last week researching this location extensively, including calling the former owner/landlord of the strip mall, Rusty Richter, who also sits on the Wyoming, MI city council (he hung up on me after I asked about Barking Boutique opening up shop in his former retail plaza, but not before him giving me a boorish lecture about being a proud pro-trump businessman and as a private citizen he can do whatever he wants, blah blah blah…)

    Anyway, the Barfing Boutique is planning to open at 2939 Wilson Ave SW, Grandville, MI which is owned by a company called SRL Enterprises (aka Comfort Inn-GR) headed by a Mr. Rajinder Loomba. His email address is and phone # 616-957-2080 — maybe if enough people contact him and politely ask him to reconsider leasing the tenant-space to BB he will have a change of heart! (Although foreigners from that part of the world often take a dim view of animal-rights, so no wonder BB managed to find a place that would let him open up shop.)

    The actual owner of the STORE Barking Boutique is named David Boelkes, some phone #’s for him = 815-980-1099, 616-886-5821, and 616-446-6766, email addresses =,,, and social media accounts = & & — I’m sure if he’s gotten kicked out of 2 malls already, this 3rd time should be a charm! Here’s last year’s petition:

  • djmichaelangelo

    “We’ve had tons of people reach out to me after we closed wishing that we were still open” = oh yeah? name ONE ya stubborn queen….no one is buying your lies

    “it’s a minority voice speaking out for the public” = another crock of sht, there were 50 people there tonight against you, and you had maybe 2-3 “supporters” with you David….not to mention the THREE THOUSAND who have signed a petition against you opening up shop in Grandville – so much for a “minority!” get a real job, and give up this crazy idea of an unwelcome store that no one wants and everyone hates

    • Stevie

      “ya stubborn queen”? “everyone hates”? As usual the opposition is so enlightened. Not only do they spread falsehoods (“no reputable breeder would ever sell to a pet store” – I guess they know every breeder in the USA), but they are hateful and abusive in their rhetoric.

    • Just Saying.

      Name calling and bullying does not help your cause. How many of those 50 people at the meeting or the three thousand petition signer are actually from the area? If the store is truely not wanted in the area, no one will buy his pets and he will go out of business.

  • Joanie Kenoshmeg

    I am all for the Pet store. NON Pitbull dogs are hard to find and people have to drive hundreds of miles to get to a breeder to get a non pitbull or pitbull mix as that is usually the only type of dogs that shelters have. People have a right to buy other types of dogs. Pitbulls are spayed and neutered at the lowest rates of all dogs and grant monies that are used by local shelters and humane societies to offer FREE altering to owners of pitbulls is often returned unused as the owners of pitbulls want to breed the dogs for quick cash, or dog fighting. These supposed animal advocates fight laws to require spay and neutering of pitbulls to help the dogs NOT end up in shelters. Most pitbull shelter dogs have 3 or more homes before landing in a shelter. They are not for everyone but these supposed “animal advocates” do not fight pitbull breeding with the same energy as they fight so called puppy mills. They often harrass anyone who adopts a nonpitbull shelter dog or pureabred but they created the market for this store. NON pitbull breeds of yesteryear are becoming rare and hard to find. Some shetlers auction often nonpitbulls to the highest bidders. This increases revenue for the shelters but makes it hard for families who do not want a pitbull to choose one. America is about Freedom and puppies do not have any hidden histories like pitbulls in shelters can.

  • Korg

    This has been interesting to watch 3 communities be very vocal against the store.

    But my question is, where was all these outraged, good natured people when shops selling pornography & sex toys set up shop? Grandville literally put one in right near the high school.

    Sex shops are ok, but dog stores are not.

    Wrong morals at it’s finest.

    • Nick

      It’s perfectly okay to be upset about all the issues you mentioned. However, your input is off-topic and narrow-focused. This article is not debating the validity of porn shops, the opposition is debating the inhumane breeding practices and acquisition of these animals from “puppy mills” across the country.

  • Seethetruth

    Snip taken from blog from a show breeder:
    What is the solution? Breeding for pets in many breeds and types of dogs outside of the companion breeds has become a shameful undertaking in the purebred dog world. Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate and re-think purebred dog breeding. Breeding for the pet market might be vital to keeping some of these breeds alive. If someone is breeding healthy pet dogs, just because they aren’t show champions or field trial winners does not make them wrong. People need pets! Just as importantly, we need to re-think our attitudes about commercial breeders because many are doing just that. The pet market still wants purebred dogs that we are not providing; the commercial breeders CAN and ARE. If we want a future with purebred dogs in it and as a part of the general public we might need these commercial breeders to help fulfill the pet market need.

    We as purebred breeders have fallen just as victim to the fallacies sold by animal rights by vilifying commercial breeders and even referring to them by the emotionally coined term “puppy mills”, shutting them out of our elite world. It makes me cringe to see fellow breeders using that term. I think it’s time to get off that elite high horse. If we want to see a future with purebred dogs in it and defend ourselves against the bombardment of anti-breeding legislation, we need to support and EDUCATE each other. This is not to say I don’t have a problem with someone crossing basic pets and marketing them as something they are not, such as unproven GSP’s being marketed as hunting dog, because that makes me crazy. But if a breeder breeds and markets them as pets? I’m thinking we need more of this. I’d rather see two healthy well tempered Golden Retriever pet quality dogs being bred rather than someone making Goldendoodles from poorly bred Goldens and Poodles, or worse, bringing a rescue back from Mexico with who knows what diseases and parasites. So long as healthy dogs are being bred in safe, humane, clean conditions, and just as importantly, HONESTLY marketed, isn’t that preferable? To keep purebred dogs relevant and wanted and part of American culture, I think pet breeders are a necessary part of that future.
    More at link:

  • Betsy Fickel

    Have to wonder how many of the protestors against this pet store have actually seen commercial kennels and speak from fact. Or are they just rotely second and third handed repeating emotion inducing rhetoric?

    How many are aware of the 50 plus pages of regulations USDA licensees have to follow?

    How many are aware of the difference between an USDA indirect noncompliance and a direct violation? Do you know that an indirect is based on a POTENTIAL, NOT an actual violation? That indirects are the majority of write ups?

    How many are aware of the number of vet checks pet store pups go through? Do you know how many THOUSANDS of HEALTHY pups are sold vs.the occasional sick puppies? Do you know that a lot of the claims about a buying a sick pet store puppy can easily be traced to owner causation?

    Do you know a puppy will exhibit signs of stress in transition periods and many people take it as a sign of disease?

    Do you know there are a lot of vets that will play on the fears and desires to be a good pet owner?

    Do you know most shelter/rescue dogs come from unknown sources, unknown breeding, unknown disease exposure, unknown health issues, UNKNOWN TEMPERAMENT?? Do you want a pet with all those unknowns to purposely subject your children to? True, one can find a nice pet from that situation. But for the child that gets mauled or killed, it was chance with dire consequences. A choice the parents have to live with forever.

    Do you know many pets are returned to the shelter/rescue due to behavior and temperament issues?

    Do you value your FREEDOM OF CHOICE where you want to get your next pet?

      • Betsy Fickel

        RE: purebreds at shelters. Because they look purebred or because they have papers validating being purebred?
        There are mixed breeds that do indeed can look like a purebred of one of the breeds used.


    I plan on opening a strip club in Grandville so I hope I have the same results with the city government.
    Designer Dancers our dancers are not dogs.

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