Death by Grooming: How You Can Save Your Dog’s Life Before Finding a Professional Groomer

Dog deaths at grooming salons highlight the need for more regulation in this lucrative industry. Dogs need regular grooming to maintain their hygiene and overall health, but, unfortunately, no licensing standards exist in any state, as of 2016. Even without regulations on these types of businesses, owners can still take precautions before sending a dog to the groomer.Recent Cases

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One woman in Virginia dropped off Colby at a Petco during the summer of 2015. Her 2-year-old golden retriever died in a drying unit at the store's grooming facility. A 17-year-old poodle named Curly died in 2014 after his internal body temperature reached 109 degrees in a dryer at a groomer in Los Angeles. An Airedale terrier became injured at a grooming salon in New Jersey, and none of the staff called for help.

Petco claims Colby's dryer should have turned off automatically after 15 minutes, but Colby's owner doesn't buy that theory. One employee left to attend a graduation and forgot about the dog. Authorities charged two women who used to work at Petco with animal neglect, a misdemeanor in Virginia. Scott and Elsa Wyskocil settled with the Los Angeles groomer for $10,000. None of these charges or settlements can bring back someone's beloved pet from an act of neglect. All of these instances belie the importance of choosing a good groomer and a need for regulation in the pet industry.

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How Can People Prevent Future Deaths?

The two largest national pet store chains with groomers, Petco and PetSmart, require training before anyone grooms dogs for profit. Petco has a 12-week training course. PetSmart requires groomers to have 400 hours of technical and safety expertise followed by annual recertification. These chains state that most dryers use only room temperature air, as opposed to heated air, as they dry pets. Somehow, animals still suffer due to hot dryers, leashes and sharp clippers.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council is in the process of crafting nationwide grooming standards for certification purposes. Even after this group creates the standards, it falls to each individual state to pass laws forcing groomers to earn a license as pet groomer. Until licensing requirements go into effect, preventing deaths may fall more on the shoulders of owners choosing the right groomer.

Five Questions to Ask A Groomer

Picking a groomer for a dog starts with asking the right questions. Getting to know a groomer alleviates any concerns clients have before taking a dog in for a cut, bath or style. Initial questions may start over the phone or through an email, but eventually someone might want to meet the groomer in person before signing on the bottom line.

Pet owners should start with “What types of services do you provide?” This gives the dog owner an idea of what to expect at the groomer, the size of the staff and how many dogs the groomer sees in one day. Clients need to see how staff handles dogs, monitors dryers and lights the working areas.

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People should ask “Can I take a tour of the facility?” This gives dog owners a way to see the place before taking the dog there. Prospective customers should notice any large equipment, the size of the waiting areas where dogs go after the grooming, and how many employees work at the groomer.

Owners also need to inquire, “How much do your services cost?” Everyone needs to know the price before taking a dog into a facility. Knowing the price also lets clients ascertain the value of the services.

“Do you keep accurate records?” This question deals with veterinary records, emergency contact information and previous appointments. The accuracy of these records is vital for groomers in case anything happens that needs extra attention.

“How often to you monitor pets in dryers?” This raises one important aspect of pet care because dogs can't get too hot. The two recent cases of dog deaths in dryers happened due to heat stroke, according to the veterinarians who examined the animals after their deaths. Although groomers should take responsibility for the care of your dogs once you drop them off, you should conduct due diligence beforehand to find out which groomer fits your comfort level. Grooming your pet is more than just a healthy habit. Read here to learn how it made these three dogs more adoptable at the shelter.

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