Animal Advocates

Michigan Mall Shuts Down Puppy Store After Public Outcry

Less than one week after opening their doors to the public, a Michigan puppy store will close it’s doors for good.

The Barking Boutique, a retailer selling only young purebred and designer-dog puppies, opened for business last week at the Woodland Mall in Kentwood, Michigan.

As soon as the store opened, mall management started receiving complaints from concerned animal lovers. It is well-known that a vast majority – estimates of up to 99% – of all pet store puppies are sourced from puppy mills. In addition, with area shelters overcrowded with homeless pets, mall patrons argued that pets should be adopted from shelters instead of bought from stores that contribute to pet overpopulation.

“We care about our community, and we care about what they have to say,” Jordy VanDellen, a customer service representative at the mall said Saturday, July 9. “We heard what they had to say and decided it was the right decision.”

After only 4 days in business, the Woodland Mall terminated their lease agreement with The Barking Boutique, giving the retailer 72-hours to vacate the spot.

Of 12 puppies available for sale, 4 have already found homes. It is unclear whether the remaining 8 puppies will be sold through other means, adopted out, or surrendered to a shelter.

David Boelkes, the store’s owner, argues that his store was different. He claims to have personally visited each and every breeder from which his puppies were sourced, that each was healthy and well cared for, and that every breeder was USDA certified. Just last April, Boelkes lost his retail space at The Lakes Mall in Muskegon after the same response from mall patrons.

The following statement was provided by Woodland Mall and posted on its Facebook page:

“Woodland Mall highly values the voices of this community. After evaluating shopper concerns, we have come to the decision to part ways with The Barking Boutique. Our customers are our highest priority and it is imperative to us that Woodland Mall remains a destination where shoppers feel comfortable spending their time.”

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