Animal Advocates

Proposed Legislation Would Require Dog Groomers to be Licensed

Four years ago, Rhode Island House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Warwick) introduced legislation that would require dog groomers to be obtain a state groomers license in order to work with dogs, much in the same way that hair stylists, barbers, and nail technicians must obtain a state cosmetology license in order to work with humans.

“Anybody can be a groomer,” said Shekarchi. “Anybody can have a job in a butcher shop today and be a dog groomer tomorrow.”

The grooming industry successfully defeated the 2013 bill citing that it was “anti-business” and would lead to the state over-regulating the industry. And so, the business of pet grooming remained “business as usual” with very little oversight.

But now, after hearing news of Ollie, a Pug that died during a routine nail trim at a Middletown Petco grooming salon, Shekarchi reintroduced the bill (2017-H 6054) in an effort to better protect Rhode Island’s animals.

“Although the cause of Ollie’s death is still being investigated and no one has yet to be found at fault for this poor dog’s death, I believe this is an appropriate time to have this discussion once again for the sake of our pets’ protection and safety,” said Leader Shekarchi. “I am a dog owner and I can imagine the pain that is being felt by not only Ollie’s owners, but also the workers who were grooming Ollie that fateful day. By ensuring that our state’s pet groomers are properly trained and licensed, hopefully we can avoid similar tragic events in the future.”

There are currently no laws in place in Rhode Island (or any other state in the country) requiring pet groomers to obtain vocational licensing or certification before working at a salon. Shekarchi believes such a license would not only improve the quality of groomers, but would vastly reduce the risk of accidental injuries and deaths in Rhode Island salons.

In order for cosmetologists to be licensed to perform haircuts, nail trims, and other salon services to human clients, they must pass a state board exam that covers topics not only related to and understanding of job performance, but basic knowledge of care, safety standards, and prevention of injury or accident. It is unclear whether Shekarchi’s proposal would require similar exam testing prior to license approval. Groomers would be required to re-apply for licenses annually at a cost of $100/year.

Although none of the 50 states require groomers obtain a vocational license, only Connecticut and Colorado have at least some level of industry regulations in place, specifically regarding tethering dogs and leaving them unattended while tethered. Should this bill pass, it would be the first of its kind in the country and, many hope, would pave the way for other states to follow.

Shekarchi remains hopeful that his proposal will gain traction this time around, particularly as a dog owner that regularly gets his own dog groomed. “I took him last week to Petco to get his nails trimmed,” Shekarchi told WPRI. “So I said to myself, it could have happened to anybody. It could have happened to me.”

Would you support such a bill in your own state? Or, would you consider it a government overreach to regulate the pet grooming industry? Please, weigh in with a comment below!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. gfoomer1

    Apr 1, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    I have been a dog groomer in Rhode Island for 22 years. I worked for a skilled groomer for five years and went to an accredited grooming school for a year before opening my own business 17 years ago. I could pass any licensing test with my eyes closed. Heck….I could write the test. All that would do is cost me another fee. As if it has not been bad enough having a grooming tax pushed on pet services a few years back. There are very few groomers to begin with in this state. The state really should give us a break before we all pick up our businesses and move to neighboring states. Groomers are a class of very hard working, compassionate, intelligent, patient pet lovers. It takes a certain type of person with a certain type of artistic talent to be a dog groomer. Many people in this industry have not gone to learn in an academic facility because there are not many accredited schools. Big chain stores try to teach grooming however they should stick to thier industry of selling high volume supplies and keep their hands out of training in the grooming industry. Groomers should have personal relationships with your dog. It is better for everyone for your dog to see the same person. Big chains are about volume and have no place in the industry. Dog grooming is something that needs to be learned hands on and through studying literature on topics as vague as washing a dog properly all the way to contagious skin issues such as mange. Groomers also have to learn first hand how to deal with biting dogs, behavioral issues, and how to demat a neglected pet. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is an incredible amount to know about dog grooming and dog breeds. I learned as much at an accredited school as I did working under a groomer. Many groomers get on the job training and become amazing at their craft. We get deficated on, urinated on, work with fleas, ticks, ear infections, and express anal glands, all with a smile on our face. We even get hurt at times, and I can assure you that when we do, it does not make the news. As groomers we know that animals are unpredictable. An accident could occur as easily at a grooming shop as any other place on the planet. Yet when it does, the groomer is treated like a dog abuser which is the farthest thing from what we are. People that get involved in this industry do so because we love dogs from our heads to our toes. We work hard for meager means. I do believe that if an unfortunate accident were to occur it would be human error, not the lack of a license. Do I agree that dog groomers need to be properly trained? ABSOLUTELY! Do I think dog groomers should have to pay to get licensed? NO! My advice is this… get to know your groomer, and make sure your groomer gets to know your dog. Just the same way you would get to know your babysitter. Get references from friends and your vet. And ask about experience. I have 22 wonderful years under my belt and an education, but that does not mean that despite every effort I or anyone else can work miracles every day and keep every pet healthy and safe. Responsible groomers always put safety first and hope it all works out. As for the state goes, stay out of our pockets. Next you are going to try and make teenage babysitters get licensed for your weekend nights out. My heart goes out to Ollie's family and to the groomers that were by his side when he passed. It is heartbreaking when a young beautiful pup passes away too soon. I hope our industry continues to make every effort to care properly for your fur babies. But we need the state to let us be, we ourselves are a dying breed.

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