Background checks for groomers, bans on dangerous grooming equipment, and the implementation of pet grooming licenses are all on the table with various pieces of pending legislation.
The lesson to be learned here is that just as parents wouldn't leave their children at a daycare without doing background research, pet owners shouldn't leave their dogs with groomers and assume that their animals will be treated correctly. Unfortunately, dog grooming businesses aren't held to background check requirements and other regulatory standards like daycares are. In fact, dog groomers often don't have to go through any sort of educational programs, background check processes, or licensing steps in order to start working with someone's pet.
Pending legislation could change that. Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all have bills in the pipeline that would regulate pet grooming and work to restore some safety and accountability to the industry. The Massachusetts bill, for instance, would call for all pet groomers to obtain a specific license before starting work. Interested individuals would have to take a test and prove their expertise in order to get a pet grooming license, and all licenses would cost $20.
The Massachusetts bill would also call for annual inspections of pet grooming facilities, establish guidelines for punishing pet groomers responsible for animal injuries or deaths, and ban the use of cage or box dryers. Defined in the Massachusetts bill as "a product that is attached to or near a cage or box for the purpose of drying or aiding in the drying of a pet contained in a cage or box, and which is capable of functioning without a person manually holding a dryer," box dryers have been linked to numerous pet deaths at grooming facilities. In the case of Colby, the aforementioned golden retriever from Virginia, Petco admitted to using a "kennel dryer," which is a synonym for a box or cage dryer. The dog's heat stroke was likely caused by the unsupervised drying method.
While legislation pends, pet owners can keep their dogs or cats safe by being smart and doing their homework. Someone taking a pet to a groomer should ask to review the groomer's credentials and experience, see the facilities where the grooming will occur, and approve any equipment set to be used during the grooming process. This way, a pet owner can know where, how, and by whom their dog or cat is being groomed, which can in turn help ensure safety.