No License Necessary To Be A Pet Groomer

No License Necessary To Be A Pet Groomer

By Shannon Lynnes Heggem

Did you know that right now in the grooming industry in the United States, no prior education requirements or examination processes exist to become a groomer? That means that anyone can set up a card table in their basement, buy a pair of Wal-Mart clippers and hang their shingle out as a “groomer.” For the animals’ sake, this is a frightening concept, as grooming obviously deals with living, breathing creatures.

These animals have no way of communicating what horrors they might encounter at the hands of an inexperienced groomer who lacks proper training. Grooming is a dangerous business: very sharp objects directed at constantly moving targets. The animals are helpless and at the mercy of whoever is handling them, and cannot fight back or complain. Most pet owners are under the assumption that their groomers have had to pass some sort of exams or undergo a licensing process which qualifies them to work on their precious pets. But, this is not the case. Ironic, isn’t it, that hairdressers have to have proper schooling and state-issued licenses to work on people, but pet groomers don’t have to complete anything?

Of course the most obvious issue in the lack of proper training is the quality of the grooming job. This is important as the goal of having your pet professionally groomed is usually a haircut of some sort, a bath, pedicure, etc. Some of that information can be gleaned from books, but that really isn’t the big danger. It is vital that groomers be properly trained, not just to give fun haircuts, but also to be well-versed in health and skin issues, diseases and dangers, safety issues, etc.

Groomers work constantly around chemicals, using them on pets for pesticide treatments, etc. In only a few states, a pesticide application license is required for groomers. These chemicals are very harsh and dangerous to both the pet and the groomer, and can cause permanent damage with improper use. It is best to seek out a groomer who utilizes botanical pesticidal treatments as a safe and effective alternative. Proper training is vital for groomers, not only for the pets’ sake, but the groomers’ health and safety as well.

Because grooming involves live animals, many perilous situations can present themselves. For instance, in the past, groomers only had one type of hair dryer available to them for use, the old-fashioned heated dryer. For many years, groomers had no choice but to use them to dry the pets in their shops. They would often times use these heated dryers as cage dryers to speed up their productivity. However, these dryers present great dangers, as dogs become overheated very quickly in small crates with the hot air blowing directly on them, and can die in just a matter of a few minutes.

It still happens in grooming shops all over the country every single day, because many groomers are still unaware that new, unheated forced-air dryers are available, and are very safe for cage drying. This situation could be alleviated by an inspection process (possibly performed by a state-entity) of groomers seeking licenses to open salons, if such a thing existed. But alas, it doesn’t.

How about the issue of health concerns? Elderly and convalescing pets need special care and treatment while being groomed. Pets suffer many of the same maladies that people do, and some of these things can be life threatening in a stressful situation. Grooming is somewhat stressful for a healthy animal, so it is no surprise that the grooming process can be very taxing to a pet whose health might be in some way compromised.

These pets need special care and handling by someone well versed in these health issues and proper safety precautions. And, how about pets who have contagious conditions or parasites? Without proper sanitation methods, many of these things are easily transferred to other pets.

These are just a few of the many reasons why groomers should be required to have proper training and mandatory licensing. Many professional groomers are fighting for state and federal regulation of the grooming industry. But this battle proves to be a lengthy and costly one, but it will be won, someday. The tide is slowly turning as the awareness of the problem gains publicity. Recently West Hollywood became the first area to require licensure, after a dog died in a grooming salon. Hopefully the trend will gain momentum, for the pets’ sake.

In the mean time, the only measure of professional education in the grooming industry is the certification process. In the mean time, if you are seeking out a professional groomer, ask many questions. Ask for references, and followup with them. Having your pet groomed can definitely be a pleasant, rewarding activity, if you have carefully chosen your professional groomer. Educate yourself and make the best choice for your precious pet. After all, doesn’t he deserve to be safe?

Shannon Lynnes Heggem is an international speaker with a strong background in the pet care industry.

In the 1990’s, she established an upscale boarding resort and grooming spa in Havre, Montana. She then founded the Fast Track Institute of Pet Careers, a vocational school focused on pet-related careers.

Shannon quickly became one of the top experts in the pet care industry, as an educator, business consultant, speaker, and contest judge. She was the first Certified Master Groomer in Montana, and went on to become a Certified Kennel Operator. Only four people in the world actually hold both of these certification titles!

In 1998, Shannon’s life was forever changed when she narrowly escaped death. She was viciously attacked in her kennel by a Rottweiler, and amazingly, survived.

Since then, Shannon has overcome incredible obstacles to continue her life’s journey. The trauma was a turning point for her; she has now dedicated her life to writing and speaking, to help motivate others to succeed beyond their own experiences.

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