Following rash of recent deaths, Senate bill would require pet groomers to be licensed

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Following multiple incidents of pets dying during their grooming sessions, Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, has introduced legislation (S.1569-a) that would require licensing and other regulations for pet groomers in New York.

The legislation, which is co sponsored by Sens. Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, and José Serrano, D-Bronx, would regulate pet groomers — both businesses and individual groomers, require all groomers to be registered and inspected, would set health and safety standards for housing of animals and create a set of penalties for violations.

Bill S.1569-a defines grooming as “any act of preparing, cleaning, trimming, or styling animal hair by an individual for financial remuneration.” Right now, a New York dog groomer is currently not required, by law, to take any formal education or training classes. New Jersey and Connecticut already have laws put into place regulating the licensure of groomers and grooming facilities in their states.

Under the legislation, people who wish to register as a groomer in New York state must be at least 18 years of age, pass a background check, have never been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect and have no outstanding judgement for child support against him or her. Businesses must pay an initial registration application fee of $50 and must be re-filed biennially for a fee of $100.

The legislation’s health and safety standards include:

  • Providing temporary housing, bathing areas and grooming tables that are in good repair, safe, secure and stable.
  • All facilities must be clean, neat, orderly work spaces cleaning between uses by different pets.
  • Equipment, tools and products used by business must be in good working condition.
  • Facilities must have appropriate ventilation and first aid kits available for pets and personnel and fresh water available for pets confined more than four hours.
  • Facilities used by pet grooming businesses must have emergency procedures to assure the health and safety of pets in event of an emergency.

Businesses that violate any part of the legislation would face a fine of at least $500 per violation. Violations that do not include safety issues will range between fines of $50 to $100.

Americans spent $5.4 billion on pet boarding and grooming services this year, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. And unfortunately, some of the groomers we are trusting with our beloved pets are being too careless. There have been multiple incidents in the past decade due to neglect by groomers resulting in permanent injuries and sometimes even death.

In 2012, a groomer in Ithaca, claims to have experienced a hypoglycemic episode during a grooming session and blacked out. The result was two dead beagles found in a mobile grooming van. Presumptive causes of death included strangulations, electrocution, carbon monoxide poisoning and drowning. Veterinarians state that it was completely avoidable.

In 2015, an English bulldog, Bella, required a three-week regimen of antibiotics and medicated baths because of an infection associated with burn wounds following a grooming visit in Thornwood, Westchester County.

Earlier this month, a New Jersey man took his two dogs to PetSmart for a routine grooming visit and got a crude phone call shortly after to state that his one corgi, Abby, had become unresponsive and died. Abby had visited her veterinarian a few weeks earlier and was given a clean bill of health.

This was the fourth reported death of a dog brought in for routine grooming at a Pet Smart store in New Jersey in recent months.

“The most recent news story of Abby the Corgi dying during a grooming session is further proof of why this legislation is needed,” Avella said. “When we drop our pets off for grooming we expect they will return to us even better than the way we left them. For many of us, our pets are parts of our family and losing them is like losing a loved one.

“Our state needs to step up to prevent similar tragedies from happening again,” said Senator Avella. “It should be the goal of every pet groomer to treat all animals entrusted to their care with kindness, patience, respect and compassion, ensuring their safety, health, and wellbeing.”

The bill currently resides in the Consumer Protection Committee and would take effect six months after being signed into law. There is no Assembly version of the bill.