• Preventing Accidents in Grooming Businesses

    by Madeline Bright Ogle, author From Problems to Profits

    Prevention will always be the most effective policy to counter pet accidents. As a pet grooming business owner, you face many risks in the operation of your business. In fact, grooming businesses have a host of safety issues compared to most office and retailers.

    There's splashing water around the tub area creating puddles that someone could easily slip in. Prevention posts a wet area stanchion in the area and the bather asks for assistance to clean the spill immediately.

    Some dogs have a keen ability to strategize their escapes. Really! They wait for the perfect moment when an arriving client opens the front door and zoom! They leap out of your arms, off a table where unsecured, and in seconds they are down the street, groomers chasing after them. Fear takes over racks your body and mind. Pets can be hit by car, and sometimes groomers and owners never find the missing pets again.

    There is always the possibility of dangerous dogfights when you allow pets of different families to make even the slightest contact. We found that new groomers and even touring pet owners thought it was "cute" to allow pets of different families to commingle only to find sudden growls replacing wagging tails. No groomer knows with absolute certainty just how two pets of different owners will react, so why take risk allowing them contact each other? Keep pets separate and always have a lead on them if you walk them through your business. Even mobile groomers should always use leads when returning pets to the front doors of their homes. There are dogs that have bolted from mobile groomers in their own yards.

    Prevention needs to address the client area too. People do slip in unknown puddles of urine or feces from departing or arriving pets. In staffed environments it's everyone's responsibility to immediately warn everyone present of pet waste or water spills, and not to leave these risky situations to another staff member to clean.

    Dogs secured by loops on grooming tables can slip or leap off tables and harm themselves. Too many have died quietly by hanging unknown to groomers perhaps in the rest room or helping clients. Some large dogs have been known to tip over a grooming table and drag it across the grooming room! There are true cases where tables tipped over actually landed on leaping dogs crushing them to death, or severely injuring them.

    Never leave pets secured or not on grooming tables. Instead purchase a 1 to 3 cage unit system solely for "holding cage" use. You can find them in pet supply catalogs and manufacturers such as those by Clark Cages www.clarkcages.com are economical when purchased unassembled. Locate one multiple cage unit in the grooming/styling department adjacent to groomer workstation. If you groom alone, you only need a unit with one large cage on the bottom, and usually 2 medium size cages above the large cage. When you need to leave your grooming station for any reason, and for any amount of time, place pet(s) in the temporary holding cages until you return to groom. Yes, even if for seconds if need be. The minimal inconvenience is well worth saving the terror, shock, sadness, anger and financial consequences of harmed pets.

    Chuck Simons of Groomers Helper www.groomershelper.com recently reminded GroomerTALK members of a true story he heard from Governor Insurance. A large dog lept off a table and through a plate glass window when it saw its owner outside, and then caused an auto accident. The financial consequences amounted to a million dollars.

    As groomers we may feel rushed to maintain our schedules and as a result we are open to making risky decisions simply to keep our schedules. It's these momentary decisions that can back our great safety records, or destroy the reputation of businesses. Don't let those voices in your head tell you that using a holding cage isn't necessary. That's not minimizing risk, it's not prevention. In retrospect after accidents we usually find the causes were "dumb mistakes" because we knew better and didn't adhere to safety prevention procedures without exception.

    Yet there are businesses with excellent safety records that have been in business for decades with dozens of pets groomed every day. The secret is prevention. We must recommend again you read From Problems to Profits. Specifically, refer to safety information in Chapter Ten - Developing a Safety Program (See www.groomingbusinessinabox.com.) There is no other complete safety reference work as complete in the entire pet grooming industry. It covers personnel policies and procedures for safety, building design for safety both interior and exterior and how to avoid mistakes. It is your greatest source for starting a preventative safety program, and you must have one to protect your business investment. A tragic accident can stain an entire career and ruin the joy of your career and business, what a shame!