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A profession not licensed -- what pet parents need to know

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Did you know that in New York your pet groomer is not licensed? We are not talking about a business certificate, we mean vocational license. Does this matter to you as a pet owner or as a consumer? Ask the pet parents that have been unfortunate and have had their beloved pets killed or injured by a groomer if they think a license is warranted. But even licensing alone does NOT mean our pets will be safer, does it? If New York is mandating that dog owners have to license their dogs, why wouldn't a commercial business servicing our dogs not have to be licensed? Wouldn't it help protect the health and safety of our companion animals and the public?

In New York presently, if you want to be a dog groomer, here is what I learned:

On a county level, a groomer calls the county clerk's office and registers their business name, only pre-condition is EIN number. The county does not ask if you will be a storefront or a mobile shop or work from your home. Consumer Affairs has absolutely NO jurisdiction over a groomer, why? because they do not license groomers. On the state level, a groomer gets a d/b/a business certificate from the state and that's it. If a groomer incorporates then the state registers them and that is it! They do not even mandate that they carry any insurance, like most other businesses have to. The town does not have any jurisdiction either; they only oversee hot-dog, ice-cream-peddler type businesses. Not even at a town level, do they want to know about mobile groomers? Mobile groomers can possibly be dumping chemicals from grooming products into our streets and waterways. Is anyone even checking to see where those big water tanks on top of their vans are being discharged?

There are contaminated water-discharge laws on county and state levels. The New York DEC does regulate some aspect of grooming; pesticide applications and water-discharge compliance. But we all know how understaffed they are and their resources are low. All groomers by law must use a product only according to the label and are NOT allowed to make any pesticide claims or even use pesticides without a certificate from the DEC. The DEC has a statute under the environmental-conservation law that they are responsible to train, educate and certify groomers for pesticide use, just like they do for landscapers and farmers. There are very important rules to know about properly discarding pesticides, the dangers and side effects and storing pesticide products properly. Unfortunately just because this law is on the books, it is not being implemented. Groomers are even possibly using unregistered (EPA or FDA) grooming products on your dogs. That is illegal in New York. Our pets and children are all at risk for possible contamination poisoning from pesticides. First, our dogs or cats can get very ill from pesticide ingredients and even die from their injuries such as; liver failure, toxic skin disorders, respiratory illness, coma, CNS diseases etc... second, even you or your children can be exposed by hugging and kissing your dog after a pesticide-laced grooming product has been applied to your dog or cat because pesticide residue can stay on their fur for weeks, exposing all who come in contact (studies have proven this for fact).

Will a license prove that a groomer is skilled enough? Not sure. Since New York is not even mandating any formal training or education in order to become a groomer, then it ALL falls on the pet parent to make sure they ask many questions before hiring a groomer. Such as: "Are you certified, did you go to grooming school, how many years of hands-on training have you had, do you have liability insurance, have you ever had any complaints against you?" There isn't even a data-bank on any government website to check out a name of a groomer before you hire them to see any of their credentials. I suggest not relying on yelp or anything like that. A pet parent can only rely on the groomer's words or ask around.

But even asking someone like a vet for a referral of a groomer does not guarantee that the groomer will not injure or kill your dog. If something does go horribly wrong after your dog was groomed and the groomer is not being a responsible business person or acting accountable, then you can try calling the Division of Consumer Protection and file a complaint. Or you can also call your local attorney general and file a complaint, but the groomer has to be voluntarily willing to work things out. Oh and that's right there is always small-claims court. What does not sit well with most pet parents is there is no "paper trail" or oversight to track groomers; they can be unscrupulous and get fired then move on to another shop or worse open up their own and continue on to unsuspecting pet parents and their pets.

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So the decades-old dilemma needs to be addressed by our lawmakers -- New York needs to come up with a better system to provide safety for our pets and their owners.
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I am happily married and we have a son named Thomas and 2 great dogs named Gizmo and Ginger. I am proud to be an animal advocate. My goal is to help create better laws and bring about positive changes that will protect the health and lives of (more...)
 

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A profession not licensed -- what pet parents need to know