Pet Groomers to Face New Hurdles if Bill Passes

A new bill would require groomers to get vocational training, pass a state-issued exam and get a license costing up to $350 dollars.

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    A California lawmaker has written a bill requiring pet groomers to get vocational training as well as a license in order to groom pets. NBC Bay Area's Kris Sanchez explains. (Published Monday, Feb. 20, 2012)

    Ask any pet owner and they've probably heard a pet grooming story gone bad.

    Evelyn Ortiz of San Jose took her dog Riley, a 7-year-old King Charles Spaniel, for a haircut which turned out more than bad looking, it was painful.

    “He was cut so closely you could tell that he was hurting in a couple of spots and that was disturbing to us,” Ortiz said.

    As bad as that was, there are stories that are worse.

    In 2011, Teresa Gilland of Northern California sued big-box pet chain PetCo after her 6-year-old dog Lhasa Apso Sadie died of heat stroke. Gilland blames a cage dryer after a grooming.

    “There should not be a contraption like that," Gilland said. "It’s called an oven, that’s an oven. No living being should be put into a contraption where no ventilation is allowed in and the temperature will go over 100-degrees.”

    It was one such story that prompted a San Diego Senator to craft a bill that would require groomers to get vocational training, pass a state-issued exam and get a license costing up to $350 dollars.

    While some groomers say it’s too much on top of tools and other expenses they already have, one groomer says licensing wouldn’t just benefit pet owners.

    “I think that for the health of the animals, the safety of the animals and to better the industry overall, it’s probably important to have it regulated by the state and have all the groomers licensed,” said Ken Gelfand of Dr. Dave’s Grooming in Campbell.

    Gelfand has nine years of experience and on-the-job training under more senior groomers. He also has experience in pet grooming and dog shows. But, that’s not the case with everyone.

    “I think it’s necessary that all groomers get certified so that people can be comfortable knowing that the person grooming their animal knows what they’re doing rather than just being a cachier who got pulled off their duties because the shop was short of staff,” Gelfand said, referring to something that actually happened at a shop where he used to work.

    All of the pet owners interviewed by NBC Bay Area said they’d be happy to pay a higher price for grooming if they could be sure that groomer was qualified.

    “As long as I know my dog is in good hands, I don’t mind paying extra money," said Latisha Alexander of San Jose. "No problem at all.”

    Senate bill 969 is now in committee.