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Proposed Legislation Would Require Dog Groomers to be Licensed

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Groomer Min

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!

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  1. Avatar Of Matt matt says:

    I would absolutely support this law. Too many pet smart’s killing animals as well as other places. Small toy dog just killed 11/2020 by Pet Smart in Liberty Penn. Its ridiculous that we have laws for everything else. Laws that protect animals but no laws for the groomers that are killing them. Shame on the government for not passing a law requiring groomers to be licensed!!

  2. Avatar Of Amy



    I don’t think that a license will have an affect on the care of the dog, I think that the number of years that someone has been in business is much more important. Pet Smart trains groomers, they are not professional groomers for the most part. I think if you are looking for a groomer, look for the one that has been in business the longest or better yet, someone that refers you to a groomer that has been going there for a period of time.

  3. Avatar Of Cd Widow

    CD Widow


    Dog groomers should absolutely be licensed. It’s a pitiful excuse to cry poor over having to pay an annual fee(like ANY other licensed professional, in almost any industry) to renew ones license. If you are an experienced groomer and can pass the test with your eyes closed it should be no big deal for you to pass the licensing exam. I would think you’d be in favor of it, since all those who are not up to par would this be prevented from working at those big corporations who have new groomers every ten minutes, and little professional expertise. They are the ones taking business away from seasoned professionals, hurting their bottom line, and besmirching the credibility of the industry. Not only that, but business expenses are tax deductible. It’s hardly an over-reach to put protections and legislation in place that seeks to eradicate unnecessary cruelty, suffering, or death of a beloved animal companion. These are living beings and family members, and they are every bit as deserving of our care and protection from harm as any person who goes to a hair stylist, tattoo artist, or esthetician.

  4. Avatar Of Denise Berleue

    Denise Berleue


    I have seen good and bad groomers some who have nipped my dogs belly with the guard off my biggest complaint is the cost is out of control when I first started it was $25 dollars to groom a 9 lb yorkie today it is $40 dollars and they expect a tip when I did contract work I only made $50 dollars with neurologist my trade was very skilled

  5. Avatar Of Brook Wilkins

    Brook Wilkins


    Groomers should be licenced. And regulated. But not by the Veterinary board that some states have been trying to push. I have 16 years behind me, am a certified groomer with the NAPCG, and CPR Certified. If groomers actually cared about the dogs in their care (and not just making a paycheck) they would also be part of the many different Grooming Organizations the industry has to offer. Unfortunately, many groomers dont care about their education and think they know it all. By licensing the industry we will finally have a chance to get rid of the riff raff and by doing that salons can finally raise their rates so they can afford to opperate and pay their groomers legally. This industry has so many things wronf with it. From groomers doing drugs to groomers bleaching dogs. No dog owner wants these abusers anywhere near their animals. But they dont know any different because of no regulation! I mean shampoo companies arent even required to list their ingredients! Legislation over this industry would change that.

  6. Avatar Of Steve Steve says:

    It is definitely government overreach to regulate the pet grooming industry. If you regulate dog grooming services then where does it stop. It seems to me that those who want grooming regulated must be saying that the dog owners don't care enough about their dogs to look after their welfare by taking an interest in their dog groomers ability to care for their dogs while grooming them. If that's the case then why would you stop there? You would have to licence dog owners themselves surely?

  7. Avatar Of Michelle Stewart

    Michelle Stewart


    Dog groomers should be licenced and certified.

  8. Avatar Of Gfoomer1



    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.

    • Avatar Of Jan Jan says:

      Very well put. I too have been grooming dogs for many years. When the big box stores became involved in the grooming business, there was a large change for the worse. They are only interested in the money. It's a shame. You only ever hear the bad stories, not the story of the extremely matted dogs we help, dogs with health problems not noticed by owners, abused dogs we help to understand not all humans are bad, etc. I love my job and help dogs and help educate owners.

    • Avatar Of Rita Rita

      Rita Rita


      Bravo! Well said and I couldn’t agree with you more! Thank you!

    • Avatar Of Christine Ann

      Christine ann


      Totally agree and Very well said!!

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