The Barking Boutique is open for business -- and even sold six puppies since it opened and into the weekend -- despite crowds of people protesting its very presence across the street.
Dozens of protestors stood outside the Wilson Avenue store Sunday, April 30, despite cold, rainy weather. They contend for-profit pet stores provide poor treatment for its animals given some stores' ties to puppy mills.
But the owner, David Boelkes, says he's confident in working with legitimate kennels.
"It really depends on the management of care that is taken at those kennels, so when we go and inspect our kennels and see the parent dogs, we really get to see and vet those dogs and breeders," he said. "... (I want to) make sure those dogs are living a quality of life that I would want for my dog."
The protest's organizer contends the puppies' parents are living in sub-par conditions not fit for any animal.
"Would you let your companion pet live that way?" Tanelle McFadyen asked. "No. These dogs don't get socialized, they don't get human touch."
WZZM 13 earlier verified Boelkes' puppies were not from a puppy mill and those breeders were verified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, all were cited for non-compliance issues in the past.
Boelkes planned to open a location in The Lakes Mall in Muskegon last year, but the mall ended up not pursuing a lease with the store. Then in July, the Barking Boutique opened a location in Grand Rapids' Woodland Mall but stayed in business for just two days before being forced out.
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