New Jersey could become the first state in the country to require all pet groomers to be licensed after a bill unanimously passed a Monday committee hearing.
New Jersey lawmakers introduced legislation that, if passed, would require pet groomers to be obtain a state groomers license in order to work with animals, much in the same way that hair stylists, barbers, and nail technicians must obtain a state cosmetology license in order to work with humans.
The Pet Grooming Licensing Act, more commonly known as Bijou’s Law, was unanimously voted through during a committee meeting following an investigation by NJ.com which documented dozens of cases of dogs dying shortly or after being groomed at PetSmart.
“Everyone I tell, they’re surprised groomers don’t require licensing,”Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who first introduced the bill in 2014 said. “There’s room for regulation. No one is against safety. It’s time to put pets over profits.”
Bijou’s Law, which was named after a 6-year-old Shih Tzu that died during a routine grooming at a big box pet salon, is sponsored by Huttle, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty.
There are currently no laws in place in New Jersey (or any other state in the country) requiring pet groomers to obtain vocational licensing or certification before working at a grooming salon. Supporters believe such a license would not only improve the quality of groomers, but would vastly reduce the risk of accidental injuries and deaths at the hands of groomers.
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.
Bijou’s Law would establish a Pet Groomers Advisory Committee within the Division of Consumer Affairs and would require groomers pass an exam to obtain a license. The groomer would also need to be at least 18 years of age and “be of good moral character.” The cost to the groomer would be around $60-75 per 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.
Those that oppose the bill say it is “anti-business” and would lead to the state over-regulating the pet grooming industry. Some groomers expressed concern over the financial burden of licensing and the credentials of the oversight committee members.
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!