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MA Moves Closer to Vocational Licensing

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  • MA Moves Closer to Vocational Licensing

    Bill calls for state board to regulate pet groomers; Would ban drying device alleged to have killed Rockport dog

    Massachusetts could be the first state in the Union to license pet groomers and ban drying cages like the one alleged to have killed a Rockport greyhound in Gloucester last year if a bill filed by a state senator becomes law.

    The Senate bill, introduced earlier this year by Republican Sen. Richard Tisei, R-Wakefield, at the behest of a constituent unrelated to the Gloucester incident, would create a five-member licensing board, four of whom would be groomers with at least five years of experience. It would also ban so-called drying boxes, which are used to dry animals after they are bathed.

    Currently, pet groomers in Massachusetts - or any other state - do not have to be licensed by local or state officials.

    "I was surprised that there's no type of training at all required for the pet grooming profession," Tisei said in an interview yesterday with the Times. "We certify and regulate most professions, in that we have basic standards for training. It seems as though anyone can put up a shingle and say they're a dog groomer."

    Richard LeBlond, a deputy chief with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said groomers are not required to be licensed in the commonwealth.

    "They can just open up," he said.

    According to Gloucester City Clerk Robert Whynott and Public Health Agent Jack Vondras, Gloucester does not require groomers to be licensed to operate in the city.

    The oversight board proposed by Tisei would be charged with issuing three types of licenses based on grooming duties performed and years of experience. Each type of license would require a set number of hours of training or apprenticeship and would have to be renewed every two years.

    No licensing fees are listed in the bill, but they would be set by the state panel should the proposal become law. Tisei said he did not specifically limit who the fifth member of the board would be "because I believe the industry should police itself. This is modeled after other boards and commissions," he said.

    Animal advocates and some members of the grooming industry are not opposed to Tisei's bill. Jay Stull, a spokesman for Canine Political Action Corps, a national advocacy group for dog professions based in Foristell, Mo., said having groomers on a regulatory board is important and Tisei's bill is the best attempt to license an industry that is completely unlicensed nationwide.

    "This is one of the first ones that has the entire board to oversee the licensing process as groomers, which I think is marvelous," Stull said. "It forces the industry to self-regulate under the supervision of the state."

    There are licensing proposals before the legislatures in New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

    Robyn McNair, owner of Robyn's Dog Grooming on Main Street in Gloucester, said she believes groomers should be licensed and monitored so customers have recourse if their groomer has multiple or recurring problems.

    "I would want somewhere to go and have complaints investigated to make sure shops are being run up to par," McNair said.

    She added that having groomers on the licensing panel "makes me feel much better because we've all been there (in dealing with complaints)."

    The bill would also ban the use of drying cages, which are enclosed devices that use forced hot air to speed up drying.

    One groomer in Gloucester, the Barking Lot on Main Street, is being sued in Gloucester District Court following the death of a Rockport couple's pet greyhound, Riva, last May after being in a drying cage. The suit alleges that Rosey Lourenco, owner of the Barking Lot, put Riva in a drying box and forgot her.

    Nancy Waddell, of Prospect Street in Rockport, returned several hours later last May 5 to retrieve Riva, but found her lying and shaking on the groomer's floor, panting and unable to stand.

    LeBlond said the investigation into Riva's death, conducted by MSPCA agent Martha Parkhurst immediately following the incident, concluded no criminal wrongdoing. Jamie Levie, the Gloucester Police Department's animal control officer, also investigated and decided not to bring criminal charges.

    According to both the Waddells and Patricia Johnstone, Lourenco's attorney, an intent to harm or kill the animal is required to bring a criminal charge.

    Johnstone told the Times last week she and Lourenco believe the civil suit, filed April 5, is "a baseless and frivolous lawsuit."

    Several groomers in the city contacted by the Times said they do not use enclosed drying cages.

    "We don't use them. I like to do things more hands-on," said Julie Borge, owner of K-9 Cuts on Center Street.

    Her husband, Troy Petrillo, said K-9 Cuts, which has been in business for 16 years, has never used drying cages.

    "They're nice tools if they're used properly, but we're a smaller operation, more hands-on, and we feel it's important to give our clients that kind of service," he said.

    McNair said she has not used any enclosed drying devices in her 20 years as a groomer.

    "I wouldn't use one of those units if you paid me," she said. "I think it's an accident waiting to happen."

    While she uses dryers on her clients' dogs, they are put in grated cages, rather than an enclosed box, in which Riva was allegedly placed, according to the suit. The heat setting is never above medium, and her staff is instructed to check on each cage every 20 minutes, McNair added.

    Waddell said she filed the suit for "accountability" because she believed Lourenco tried to rush her out of the Barking Lot without explaining what happened to Riva and never accepted responsibility for Riva's death or apologized. Riva died in the office of Dr. Jeffrey French that day with a temperature of 108.9 degrees, the veterinarian told the Waddells.

    McNair said she felt bad for both the Waddells, who lost their pet, and Lourenco as a fellow groomer.

    Waddell did not ask for specific damages in the court complaint, but said anything she is awarded above and beyond costs - for an attorney, court filings and a $700 necropsy performed by Tufts University Grafton Small Animal Hospital - will go to Greyhound Adoption Service, the Salisbury group where she got Riva, and to Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

    Stull said he opposes the portion of Tisei's bill banning drying boxes because "the problem is not the heated dryer, the problem, assuming the accusation is correct, is the groomer." Stull is not familiar with the case and said he is not passing judgment on who is responsible for Riva's death.

    Next week, Stull said he plans to meet with Tisei's staff to discuss the bill. Tisei said he is "not married" to the drying cage ban, but wanted it in the bill to draw attention to the devices as an issue.

    What Tisei's bill would do:

    * Create a board of five people, four of whom are groomers, to issue licenses for pet groomers.

    * Charges the board to regulate examinations, sanitary rules and apprenticeships for groomers.

    * Create an examination for the three kinds of licenses based on hours of training: bathers and brushers, 80 hours; basic groomers, 300 hours; master and teacher groomers, 600 hours.

    * Require groomers to reapply for licensing every two years.

    * Require groomers to maintain records of pets, their owners and dates of service.

    * Require groomers to be insured.

    * Create a list of licensed groomers available to the public.

    * Grandfather groomers in business for longer than five years from taking the required examination for a license.
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  • #2

    I find this bill and this article extremely offensive.

    What they dont menton in the article about this bill I find most disturbing.

    -how about the fact the want to create a board consisting of 4 pet groomers and they are not ging to pay them a dime for their work and time. Oh wait the will compensate for their travel expenses. A WHOPPING $300.00 per year. WOW! talk about perks huh? Who exactly do they think they are going to get on this board with no compensationg for their time?

    Additionally, I am sick of hearing about how anyone can just hang a shingle and open a shop. I makes it sound like we are all a bunch of lowlife scum that cant afford anything but a shingle to hang rather than something more professional like a lighted sign.

    And, we can just open up? Wow yea it is that easy, we just hang a shingle and start hacking away. Just shave'um all down bald! Yea that is gonna keep the clients coming back!

    I dont need the state to tell me not to use a cage dryer. we dont even own one. Never have and never will, Bill or no Bill.




    • #3
      sounds good to me. The story about Riva is sad. I've never liked those drying boxes and have never used them. I agree they should never be used for any reason. The requirements sound fair also and hopefully will at least put better groomers out there. Accidents though will still happen.


      • #4
        Sorry guys, but...

        I think the licensing, or SOME sort of regulating, is a good idea. There have been just too many stories of these poor animals roasting to death. Most of us are top notch groomers, but the licensing is necessary for those individuals who aren't. I've worked with some who were trained by their boss and were clipping dogs within a week. People's pets are as precious to them as their children, and I wouldn't want a doctor or even a hair dresser touching my child without proper education/training. We're supposed to be dedicated to the welfare of the pet...let's not lose site of that. (HOW in the world can you forget a dog in an oven? SCAREY!)
        Best of luck to all! Groomers are special people!


        • #5
          Jason, I agree with your comments about "they can just hang a shingle". I too have often been offended by the attitude that kind of comment implies. Sure ANYONE can 'hang a shingle' but very few can have a successful business. It takes hard work, skill and dedication to bring in customers. Not to mention compassion, patience and the ability to deal with people. I've known many people who thought they wanted to be a groomer and quickly learned it wasn't for them. If it really was that simple, they'd be many more groomers out there. Truthfully, I think it's much easier to be a hairstylist.


          • #6
            As in any business, quality people will prosper and fly-by-nights will be seen for what they are and will go out of business.

            Manaditory insurance - If you are in business you already should have liability, business and WC insurance. What will the state set as the mininmun amount for insurance? Will just the shop need the insurance or will each employee need the insurance?

            Who sets the permit fees?

            What are the fees for the tests? Fees for the study materials?

            Who will write the tests and who is paying for the test administrations - printing etc?

            Is the goverment paying for the inspections or does each shop have to pay to be inspected?

            If the Gov is requiring apprenticships will they be paying the AP for the OTJ experience?

            I am not a big fan of Humane Societies, the general members hearts are usually in the right place but the "founders" or Boards seem to have agendas or definitions of humaness that is beyond that of the general public.

            Letting the Goverment that does not know your business have the power to regulate what tools you can use in your business is absurd. Banning the dryer will be the first step. Remember most HS are on the PETA band waggon and PETA does not like animals in crates - period. Perhaps Forced air dryers would be next or a requirement to use only scissors with rubber tips on the ends so the dog wont get poked - or plucking ear hair maybe seen as cruel.


            • #7

              The government can't get it straight on a good day !! Believe me, it takes MUCH more than hanging up a shingle. Many people THINK they want to be groomers. Grooming takes many skills, few which can be "tested".


              • #8
                untrained people opening business

                But Jason - it is true that this 'business' is filled with fly-by-night people who are not properly trained and never want to update themselves.

                I have had some people who worked for me who were horrid - NOT groomers, and when I got firm with them over stupid mistakes they walked out the door and opened their own businesses. They were NOT trained to groom at all - only thought they were and no one could tell them any different.

                Needless to say the one folded rather quickly after doing her amount of harm to the business and the dogs she wacked on - the other? Well she struggled and is making a go of it - but it was by experimentation on others pets.
                THAT I feel is very wrong. The schooling should have come FIRST - hence the regulations do try to promote that.

                Good ethics do not belong to all folks - it is unfortunate as there are so many liers and bad guys out there. Just how many illegal shops are you aware of? I have heard of way too many - paying under the table, no work comp, paying people as independents when they are non - the list goes on and one. Some of the regulation will help in that area.
                But, of course, regulation will not make one groom better...
                or give one more talent - but it will instill that continuing education is important....

                Just my 2 cents worth.


                Originally posted by jaeinn View Post
                I find this bill and this article extremely offensive.

                What they dont menton in the article about this bill I find most disturbing.

                -how about the fact the want to create a board consisting of 4 pet groomers and they are not ging to pay them a dime for their work and time. Oh wait the will compensate for their travel expenses. A WHOPPING $300.00 per year. WOW! talk about perks huh? Who exactly do they think they are going to get on this board with no compensationg for their time?

                Additionally, I am sick of hearing about how anyone can just hang a shingle and open a shop. I makes it sound like we are all a bunch of lowlife scum that cant afford anything but a shingle to hang rather than something more professional like a lighted sign.

                And, we can just open up? Wow yea it is that easy, we just hang a shingle and start hacking away. Just shave'um all down bald! Yea that is gonna keep the clients coming back!

                I dont need the state to tell me not to use a cage dryer. we dont even own one. Never have and never will, Bill or no Bill.




                • #9

                  That is the way New England is. You can't remodel without permission from some sort of council. This is just another way for the government to nickel and dime us. The drying incident was probably the groomers fault. Those things are literally ovens. I was going to use "We specialize in hand drying" as a motto for my grooming shop so my patrons would have peace of mind in the care of their pet. Those of you in other states can be all for the legislation but wait until you have to raise your fees just to cover the costs of the examinations and licensing. Not to mention the time you have to spend studying instead of running your business.


                  • #10
                    licensing doesn't "fix" problems

                    Massage therapist have a national licensing board and we still have problems with unprofessional people running poor business. IF they're reported and IF there is someone available to do anything about it, the people will lose their license for a bit and will open up shop elsewhere. It won't stop them. The same will hold true for grooming. It's all about the enforcement of a license, not how many laws on a topic one can make. There aren't enough people employed to enforce any license.

                    I'm totally on the fence about it.


                    • #11
                      licensing question

                      If the state decided that groomers should be required to be 'licensed', where do you get this license? i was originally going to do a home study to brush up my skills through - does that qualify for a license? if not, what about the California School of Dog Grooming?
                      that is an actual school that i would go to. it is the only one around here for me to go to. anyone know anything about it? and if i went there- would i be 'licensed'?

                      sorry for such a dumb question, lol..but i am new and i do not understand what you guys mean by 'license'.



                      Stephen: Since no state has passed legislation for vocational licensing, who knows what they will consider appropriate education. Every state WILL have different terms, it's too early to say, but generally the longer you have already been employed or self employed as a pet groomer, you could be "grandfathered" in and thereby not have to take education requirements or be tested, or at least you will be sujbect to minimal requirements other than your related experience. Again, how much is that? No one can answer your question because there is no law yet.


                      • #12
                        thanks for answering stephen

                        oh..bummer...then what should i do? pay all that money for an expensive grooming school? or just do home study since i have been in grooming for 3 years already? I was gonna go to a school because i figured it would be considered "licensing" since they are an accredited, licensed vocational school, even though all we get is a certificate. but a way cheaper home study course will give me a certificate as well. i was wanting an answer asap because i was wanting to hurry and go through the application process so that i could start in january. but now i am thinking i maybe should wait to see what they decide before i decide how to spend the money since it will be a loan (if actual school) no loan if it's home study. then if did home study i was gonna go with because they are a 'licensed' school...but that is 1000.00 compared to all about dog grooming home study which is around 3-400.00 i believe. (i have all my own equip. since i've already been grooming, so i wouldn't need the tool kit). i want to be able to have the money available to me when i find out what i would actually you have any idea when they are supposed to make a decision on this? what do you suggest? your opinion is greatly appreciated.


                        Stephen: If you've already been grooming you may need a custom program to enhance your weak points. I know of schools that give you a "followup" course, customized. If you are weak on Terriers, your program will focus on Terriers and the course time may be less than their traditional courses. Some give you tests to help you be clear where you still need training. Perhaps you need continuing education available by going to trade show workshops etc. But as far as contributing to licensing, yep, who knows what will be legislated in the end. I cannot see a Bill that says someone with years of grooming has to go back to school and do a whole course and get a certificate etc etc passing. At most testing perhaps, and even that doesn't seem likely if you can prove active or recent employment for "x" amount of time. Sure you would have to sign up and give a resume of experience you could prove etc, that I think would end up passing. The industry cannot wait for thousands of groomers to be forced back into a school etc...the outcry would eliminate that path, most likely. Regardless of licensing, everyone needs continuing education to be a better groomer for some time, and we are lucky that resource materials like Melissa Verplank's books and seminars, and Jodi Murphy's DVDs etc are making that a lot easier, I would invest in these, and yes there are others but these you can learn about right here at this website and they are excellent by top world class groomers. I always find it interesting when I meet groomers to see those that have invested in a professional library...most every professional in their field...builds a library. When I see a groomer without ANY resources I find it unusual.


                        • #13
                          How does a hair dresser become licensed? If a state were looking to license groomers than wouldn't it be about the same process?
                          "The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog." -Ambrose Bierce


                          • #14

                            IMHO, at this point I think it is a good idea to have Pet Grooming become a licensed profession. It will raise the perceived level of professionalism by the general public; it will raise the standards of many schools that may have weak curricula. Having visited and looked at many schools in the recent past I could see how vastly they differed in levels of cleanliness, requirements, hours of actual “hands on” training and experience, and more.

                            This procedure usually evens the playing field when schools realize they don’t meet minimum requirements for their students to become licensed. Most often folks that have been practicing, and are currently in business for x number of years, are grandfathered in (with documentation). And, unscrupulous shop keepers eventually get closed down. I am always amazed at how little information some dog owners may have regarding what to expect from all kinds of shops. Many dog owners are inexperienced owners/buyers. This is evidenced by the still (unbelieveable!) success of puppy mill sales.

                            I feel it can only help the image of the profession in the long run. There are still many questions to be answered and it might be a good thing to stay very connected to the issues via your legislators; it is easier than you might think to have an influential voice, especially in a field that legislators have little information. They often welcome the feedback. It could influence items such as cost of license, frequency of updating, number of hours /days/years practicing, and testing.

                            Since I am living in NY State I would be directly affected should the legislature act quickly (ROTFLOL).

                            Thanks Stephen for the updates. Keep the info coming.


                            • #15
                              thank you for your reply stephen. I have decided to get Notes, Theory of 5 and P2P. I was curious about Jodi Murphy's dvds..but you say they are good, i'll check them out..maybe just get 1 to start and see. I also decided to see which school would test me and customize a plan for me (I didn't know they did that- that makes alot of sense and I would feel better about spending my $$ on it). I usually am not allowed time off to go to the expos - as my boss usually goes and I get to keep the store open - I can't wait until I can get my mobile van and work my own hours and I think my clients would be happy to book around expos knowing that I am interested enough to further my knowledge of the industry.

                              thanks again for all of your information. i don't know what i would do without you guys!