Protection for Pet Owners from Unscrupulous Groomers

Pet groomers, pet bathers and pet brushers would be certified under legislation approved May 30 by the state Senate.

This bill – SB 969 by Sen. Juan Vargas, a San Diego Democrat – would create a voluntary program administered by the California Pet Grooming Council, a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that would establish standards of education, examination, training and experience.

Pet groomers, pet brushers and pet bathers could only call themselves “certified” with an OK from the council.  Otherwise they would be guilty of engaging in an unfair business practice.

Vargas told his Senate colleagues the measure originated with the travails of Lucy, a Yorkshire terrier mix, who “sustained multiple injuries during a routine trip to a pet groomer including a detached retina and lacerations to five of her eight nipples.

“Many of us look at our pets almost as family members,” Vargas said. “They’re very loyal, very wonderful animals. They’re not able to communicate to us what happens at the pet groomers. So, many times, they suffer in silence.”

Vargas said his bill “will ensure consumers have the option to take their pet to a groomer they can trust because they’ve met certain training requirements.” Opponents of the bill suggested the Legislature had more important matters to deal with.

“I regretfully have to rise against Lucy’s Law,” said Sen. Sam Blakeslee, a San Luis Obispo Republican. “I don’t think we need a certification process around pet grooming.”

The state Republican Party contrasted the vote in favor of Vargas’ bill – it was sent to the Assembly on a 22 to 14 vote – with the defeat of amendments offered May 29 by Senate GOP leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar that would have made it easier to fire public school teachers for inappropriate behavior.

“It is a sad day in California when the Democrat Party cares more about how pets are groomed, than how children are treated in the classroom,” said Tom Del Beccaro, GOP party chair.

Vargas’ bill defines a pet groomer as “an individual who bathes, brushes, clips, or styles a pet for compensation.”

Among the 17 members of the council would be two members from Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — one from Northern California, and one from Southern California – two members from the National Dog Groomers Association of America Inc., a member selected by the state Veterinary Board, another by the Department of Consumer Affairs, one hosen by the State Bar with “animal law experience” and one member chosen by the international Society of Canine Cosmetologists.

To secure a certification an applicant must be at least 18 years of age and complete a council-approved curriculum in pet grooming “totaling a minimum of 300 hours” and “1,000 hours of hands-on experience in pet grooming.”

The bill must be approved by the Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The Democratic governor has not taken a position on the measure.




  1. At least they are focused on the things that will improve the California economy, create jobs, restore voter confidence and address the budget deficit.

    Comment by Richard M — 5.31.2012 @ 5:23 am

  2. This bill is really a no brainer. There are too many to count nonsense bills introduced every year – many by Republicans, by the way. This bill is not among those. Remember the words of Mahatma —
    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    Oh, gotta say it: Shame on Del Braco for his idiotic comment. Great example of reducing the debate to stupid political rhetoric. Way to go, Tom — way to elevate the discussion!

    Comment by sambolina — 5.31.2012 @ 8:15 am

  3. I wouldn’t let someone with 300 hours training or 1000 hours hands-on experience groom my stuffed animal. It was one of these minimal grooming programs that produced the groomer who injured Lucy. So how is this same sort of minimal program going to guarantee the public their pet won’t be injured? It can’t. It’s a farce going on here. The injured pets from this inadequate grooming state-certification program will be the ones bearing the brunt of this travesty of a bill. The good & experienced groomers who are fighting desperately to stop this bill will be the ones blamed!

    Please, call your state representatives and tell them to vote “no” on SB969.

    Thank you, Barbara
    member: San Diego County Groomers Association

    Comment by Barbara Naddy — 6.03.2012 @ 5:19 pm

  4. Its all a money grab. It all comes down to money . Can’t raise taxes so lets add fees which will be passed to customers . Big brother at its best . Lets run businesses out of California .

    Comment by johnny — 6.03.2012 @ 5:32 pm

  5. I agree with Johnny and Barbara. All kinds of company’s are leaving California in droves due to all the Taxes/fees and regulations. In my opinion this is a poorly written bill by someone who knows nothing of the pet grooming industry. I’m afraid this bill will fool the customer into thinking it means something important like the groomer is well trained.

    Please, call your state representatives and tell them to vote “no” on SB969.

    Comment by Jaynee — 6.04.2012 @ 4:47 am

  6. For professional groomers, SB 969 is like “shooting yourself in the foot” and it has to be defeated. There are SO many flaws written into this Bill, no self-respecting, intelligent groomer would ever sign up for this thing. We don’t do this for the money, we do this because we are animal lovers and want to make a positive difference in a pet’s life. The safety and the well-being of the pets that are in our charge is extremely important to us. SB 969 penalizes the 99% of groomers who do their work correctly and safely but misleads the public for the ones who don’t.

    Comment by Donna — 6.04.2012 @ 9:10 am

  7. First I object to this article’s heading. Unscrupulous indicates intent to harm. Less emotion, more logic please. Tens of thousands of dogs are groomed every DAY and we only hear about 3 or 4 serious injuries every couple of YEARS. This bill punishes thousands of qualified caring groomers for those few. That abuse is covered under current animal cruelty laws! In this economy the certification is a financial burden to people who work very hard for a very slim income. We need to wait for better economic times for full licensing with sensible regulations. It also undermines the hard work of professional grooming oranizations who certify groomers for complete knowledge in this field.

    Comment by Cecilia — 6.04.2012 @ 10:34 am

  8. I get it, no new taxes, no new fees, how can someone lacking hands on experience mandate such new regulations? Why is it that the State of California is, in some ways, driving businesses out? All great questions and concerns; however, what are we actually talking about? A new “Certification” mandated for a “Professional” engaging in essentially cosmetology related business. “We” are so quick to jump on the defense about “Change” and “Regulations” without asking “Is it really that bad?” What’s different from every other professional being certified and/or licensed? Wouldn’t you want to take your loved one to an individual that has proven to be, at the very least, aware of the laws, health codes…etc? Better yet, wouldn’t you as the Dog Groomer want to market yourself more as it relates to Professional accolades, more importantly, knowledge? I think this certification mandate is long overdue. Man-up and take pride in your profession! And yes, making money costs money, as a Dog Groomer CEO/Owner/Operator, it’s implied!


    Comment by Alonzo — 6.10.2012 @ 8:33 am

  9. So lets see, protect the public from unscrupulous groomers, so are we going to protect the public from unscrupulous roofers, gardeners, chimney sweeps, house cleaners, window cleaners etc..etc..etc. Get real folks. Just another stupid way to gain revenue for a broken state. It would cost more to regulate. Who’s going to pay for the initial start up. It will take a task force to enforce it. Shame on California for so many things.

    Comment by CC — 6.20.2012 @ 1:38 pm

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