Category Archives: Dog Groomers & Facilities

Picking a Dog Grooming Facility

As in every profession, there are people who should not be employed doing what they do. The pet care profession is no different. Generally people take recommendations from friends and neighbors or veterinarians. When most people look for grooming places for their pets they think of those pets as their kids. They are concerned about how that family member will be treated, will they be injured, how will they look when they are done, will they return home having caught something from another animal. Using the “kid” theory, that is the best way to interview prospective grooming places. Since they will be there most of the day, I suggest people scrutinize it as day care for their human child.

Animals do not take to grooming as fish do to water. Actually, grooming is right up with the vet visit in least favorite things to do. Something about swimming in the Platte River, the pool or jumping in your bathtub with you in it is fine. However, when you add shampoo to most water loving animals, not only is it a heinous act but the water seems to become toxic. Keep this in mind when looking for a place to have your pet groomed. The average life span of a groomer is 3-5 years, then the novelty wears off.

What Does Your Pet Tell You

There is a fine line between I am a brat, I do not want to do this and complete fear. Notice your pet’s reaction when you take them to a grooming place. If they put on the brakes, fight you every step of the way, shake like a leaf in a windstorm, they might be trying to tell you something.

If they are a nervous wreck when you pick them up, trying to fly out the door whether you are connected to the leash or not, injured in any way or extremely ill, (vomiting or diarrhea), that is a fairly good sign that something may be amiss.

Store Fronts – What To Look For/What To Ask

The first thing is to notice how the groomers/owner react to your pet. Are they happy to see them, do they interact well with them or are they just looking at your pet as another animal to get done. There are things you can excuse. Getting bitten is just one of those normal things so if the person has a bloody bandage on an appendage, maybe overlook the not so pleasant mood.

  • Ask to see the grooming area. Is the facility clean, is there hair ankle high on the floor, does the place look dirty.
  • Notice how the other pets are acting be it in cages or on the grooming table.
  • How do the people handle the pets, do they jerk them around, yell, threaten them.
  • Ask how long the groomer has been grooming and what their training is. Did they go to grooming school? (Note here, grooming schools can be the worst place to get experience).
  • Are they familiar with the breed they are working on, how many have they groomed like your little “Fluffy”. There seems to be a great deal of misinformation about grooming haircut names. Not only from owners but also from people doing the grooming. ALWAYS explain EXACTLY what type of haircut you want and NEVER tell a groomer how much hair you want off! Tell them how much hair you want left ON. Bring a picture if you have one.
  • How do they correct animals with behavioural problems such as biting.
  • Ask about contagious disease. There are over 50 strains of kennel cough, the vaccine only covers about 2% of those. Vaccination records to me are useless since most grooming shop illness diseases have nothing to do with vaccinations. What about skin contagions, air born diseases, flea’s. How do they handle those situations? What happens if there is an injury to your pet, do they have a vet on call, do they have any arrangements with a nearby vet, do they take them to yours.

Mobile – What To Look For/Ask

Many of the same thoughts should be used in a mobile service as a storefront. However, there biggest difference is how clean you can keep a van. Due to the extremely small area and the hiding places for hair, it is not as easy to keep dog hair out of the van. As soon as the air conditioning is turned on or windows are open, hair appears out of places you never knew existed. It is not practical to take the dashboard off a van and vacuum under it so be somewhat realistic.

From the very onset, I always allowed people in the van. Other mobile companies realized the folly of not allowing people in and now almost all of them will let adults in the vehicle during the grooming process. The common reason given for not wanting people in the vans while the pet is being groomed is the animal behaves worse with the owner in the van. If you have the experience and know how to handle animals, it makes no difference how they behave when the owner is present. Yes it can make the groomers life more difficult and always takes longer.

  • Does it have “central” heat? Meaning is it just a space heater or is it run on propane heating the entire truck?
  • Is there warm and hot water available?
    It gets very cold in these vans in the winter, if in doubt as for someone to prove it to you, it is your pet, your money and you want to make sure they are comfortable and you are getting what you pay for.

In either place, never let the groomer give your pet treats that you do not approve first. It can be common practice to give your little buddy a treat for being good before they leave. If your pet has diet restrictions, as in pancreatitis, giving your pet a treat not designed for that situation can be deadly.

What Does Your “Gut” Tell You?

This is the most important factor. We all have great instincts or sixth sense but often ignore them. What type of feeling do you get when you walk into a place. Are you comfortable leaving your pet for hours? Or, do you sense that something does not “feel” right to you.

But Something Still Went Wrong?

So you have tried every means possible to assure that your pet is not only well groomed but well taken care of. Despite all your efforts they have come back with an injury or illness and least important in the big picture in lieu of the first two is, does the haircut look good. The above are only guidelines and there is no guarantee that something will not happen. If it does there are a few steps you can and should take.

Injury: If your pet returns either cut requiring sutures, nicked, or a broken or injured leg I would suggest the following. Ascertain as much information as possible. Where was the animal when it happened, bathtub, grooming table, floor, etc? Was it a clipper cut, scissor cut, brush burn, clipper burn, etc. Most places have either the owner or manager who handles issues such as the above. If they were not present at the time of the injury, do we care what they have to say? No. The only person who can tell you exactly what happened is the person who was working on the pet at the time of the injury. The groomer told the owner who is no telling you, generally something gets “lost” on the way.

If it is a serious emergency, most grooming facilities have veterinarians they work with and will have already taken the pet to the hospital. If it is not an emergency and you still feel the need to take the pet to your veterinarian, go equipped with as much information as possible.

Illness: Some people feel it is acceptable to bring their pet to a groomer even if that pet is sick. Many times, either not knowing or in some cases not caring that other animals could contract something and those owners might incur a medical bill. Ask the grooming facility what animals were present the day yours was. Inquire if any of them seemed ill or acting “odd”. If you can decipher what had happened it can give your veterinarian more information as opposed to guesswork.

Taking Action: You can yell, scream, wage a lawsuit, and complain to your friends and neighbors. However, it will not alter the outcome of what has already happened. Your goal should be to file charges with the appropriate agency. In order to stop the problem, people need to know there is one

A few years ago “big brother” put their hands in any facility that has anything to do with animals. The Department of Agriculture has stepped in and licensed everyone, writing standards for every animal profession. They are also responsible for inspections and injury reports. You can phone them at the Animal Care Division and get a report on anyone who works with animals

(Note on author: The advantage of opinions is they cannot be wrong and they cannot be right. Consequently all written material is strictly my opinion based on over 30 years working with animals. I do not believe in “experts” for one finds out quickly that there is always someone who is smarter, more experienced, better educated and a wider life experience. I do not believe in statistics since for every con argument there are equal pro arguments to challenge those statistics. Consequently rarely, if ever do I use them.)
All information is owned by Mimi Davis d.b.a. Curbside Clippers. (Copyright 2002. All Rights Reserved) Any use must have prior permission.
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Two Types of Mobile Pet Groomers

Which Is For You?

Things have changed a great deal since I and the two other mobile grooming companies started 25 years ago! For an idea that was never going to work, mobile pet grooming is in every state. There is now an additional type of mobile service along with those that do grooming so how do you decide which type of company you want and what questions to ask prior to booking an appointment?

In Colorado there is one franchise company, the balance are those of us who are owner operated non-franchise companies, the ones that were here prior to the franchises. Some are the good old 25 year standards, such as Curbside Clippers naturally, and some have been around for about 10-15 years but just changed their company names.

What are the two types of companies and why the price difference? One is the van type the other are the ones you see pulling trailers behind a vehicle.

The Two Types of Grooming Vehicles

  1. Mobile Pet Grooming Vans:The other companies who have vans are all Groomers. We not only do brushing and bathing but we also know how to do specific haircuts for all breeds. Whether that is the breed specific hair cut or short all over. All the vans have central heating systems, hot water and most have central air conditioning. The first two are VERY important in the winter and hot water is essential all year around since animals are not like laundry… cold wash.Additionally, you do not invest mega dollars in a van and not have some extra medical knowledge to inform people of potential issues or current ones when we are grooming the pets as well as the experience in all breed grooming.
  2. The Grooming Trailers: There are now two types of grooming trailers.  It is rather deceiving to call both “mobile groomers” since only a few of them actually know how to groom.  One group are only bathers as in a grooming shop. All they do is basic brush and baths and cut nails trim here and about. Some of those trailers are not heated in the winter nor have air conditioning in the summer.  When I mentioned that grooming any dog in the middle of winter without heat is not only really flipping cold but VERY dangerous if they bath puppies, older dogs or dogs with certain medical issues.  The response was from both people, we don’t groom when it is in the 20’s. I said, so when it is 35 degrees out what do you do? Well, that is fine and we have space heaters or open propane heaters. Well, you can’t have the space heater on at the same time you have the blow dryer on since it will trip the breaker and having an open propane flame near water, not a very smart idea. Oh, well, it does get a bit cold. YIKES!      The other type of mobile trailer is somewhat newer with improvements.   Most are actually groomers, they do have heat and AC for year around grooming.
  3. The “Hydrobath”: This is a much-hyped pile of crap! It is sold to (sorry) idiots by great sales people who have convinced not only the trailer-puller bathers but also some van groomers that it not only saves water but also is more powerful. How does this idiocy work? Use a measuring cup for ease of understanding but not capacity accuracy as an example. Put the stopper in the sink. Fill the sink with one cup of water and put a pump in the water. Now wash all your dirty dishes and pots and pans. Empty out ½ cup of water and refill with ½ cup of clean water to bring it back up to the original 1 cup of water. Now rinse your dishes with that same water. What have you done? You have just rinsed your dishes with half clean water and half dirty water! That is exactly what a hydrobath for a dog is. Now why for the love of GOD are you going to rinse a clean dog with half-dirty water? According to the groomers and the maker of the Hydrobath, there is a filter that makes it all better. Nope, not everyone was born yesterday!

Why The Price Difference?

Grooming Vans:
Not all the reasons but ones that are on the top of the list. The self contained grooming vans cost anywhere between $60,000 and upwards to $100,000. Obviously, there are not many on the high end since having the option of a bathroom and DVD system is really stupid. Is it done? Yep. On top of which is the excessive operating cost and special insurances and all the other ditty’s that add up. I have watched 17 companies over the past 25 years go out of business since they have tried to financially compete with places like Petco/Petsmart. That cannot be done and obviously stay in business.

The Trailers:
The average cost of these trailers is under $10,000. The cost of the area they buy varies but the average out of pocket investment is around $15,000-$20,000 total. The people have their own vehicle that pulls it, the insurance is nominal and they are not required to have additional malpractice insurance or any other insurance. Again, since they have no heat, they have eliminated the approximate $5,000 heating design. The only additional cost is the percentage that is paid to the franchise owner and if they wish to do any other advertising over and beyond what the franchise owner does.

So Which One Do You Pick?

The trailer puller bathers are ALWAYS going to cost you less than someone in either a van or the one or two people who have properly built trailers, i.e. heated. Mobile van groomers due to the state of the art self contained vans will ALWAYS cost more than the trailer bathers.

  • Do you want a hair cut or just have your pet given a bath?
  • Do you need someone experienced in grooming, health issues and animals in general?
  • Do you care if it is cold out that the trailer puller bathers have to cancel at the last minute?
  • Are you concerned in the dead of summer when dogs can over heat that there is no air conditioning?

If you want to save money, by all means use the trailers for bathing and brushing but as you can see there are draw backs. The bottom line is that only you can decide what you feel is in the best interest for your pet.

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Master Dog Groomer or Pet Groomer?

What is the Difference?

The difference is a lot and not much. There is an organization called the National Dog Groomers Association. It simply means you know the show dog standard of how to cut a dog’s hair or aka breed standard. It also says you know anatomy, identify breeds, dog terms. They cover ever so lightly what most of us already knew before we entered pre-med for vet school. For master groomer there are practical as well as written exams. Also if you belong to the group they have a number of services you are entitled to. Most liked is the liability insurance the members get or the, “if you sue me over injury or death I’m covered.” For people who started grooming in the 1970s most apprenticed with those people who groomed show dogs which is a very strict standard of “cutting” hair.

Does being a master groomer insure your pet will look better than just a pet groomer? Yes and no. If you compare a master groomer to most groomer’s in a pet grooming store, most assuredly the master groomer dog will “look like the book”. Most groomer’s in pet shops are not taught by people who know the “by the book” look. What some know is what the pet look is. There in lies the big difference.

The “pet look” is what most people want their dogs to look like. They do not care about the fluffy, foo-foo show dog look. They want a dog that smells nice, is not dirty and has hair that is easy to take care of. Most pet people do not really want the big fluffy face on their pet Bichon or all the long fluffy hair.

The “show dog look” is not that often asked for in basic pet grooming. Equally show dogs are bred for a number of qualities one of which is coat (hair). When someone hands me a pet-quality dog and then shows me a book with a champion show dog and says, I want my dog to look like that! I always tell them, give a champion show and your dog can look like that.

A master groomer does not insure that your dog will not be abused, injured, get an infectious disease any more than it would from a pet groomer. If your dog was groomed by a master groomer and someone who is not certified (and that person was either trained by a show dog groomer or had groomed show dogs in the past), you would not be able to tell the difference between the hair cuts.

Unfortunately the average life span of a groomer in the industry is less than three years. Most of them do not know how to groom a dog properly let alone how to handle one. That is why some people are very cautious about finding a groomer. You cannot learn how to groom a dog by videos or reading a book. Some of us who trained the old fashion way had to learn how to cut a ball on Afro wigs! If we could make a perfect circle after the head groomer chopped it up we were allowed to have scissors near a dog.

Most excellent pet groomer’s are not certified for many reasons. However that does not mean they do not know how to cut a dog’s hair. Whether a master groomer or pet groomer there are two things to know. If the person wants the “show look” by all means if you are experienced enough do so. If they are the average person who just wants a nice, clean and easy to maintain haircut, do what they want but explain the differences between the two types of cuts and show them pictures.

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Are Dog Groomers Required to Have a License?

Back in 1995 it finally dawned on the government that the pet industry was the only place they forgot to suck money out of. The Department of Agriculture set up an Animal Care Division to include, among others, pet groomers, vets, boarding, pet stores, anyone who has anything to do with the selling, rescue or working with animals.

Originally the fee for pet groomer’s was $150.00 a year. With that fee they were going to inspect every grooming facility, mobile or storefront every year. The concept was under the guise of protecting the animals. They were going to insure that there was no animal abuse; deaths from human stupidity and disease could not be spread pet to pet (facility kept clean).

The fee then increased across the board with grooming facilities now paying $250.00 a year to be inspected. If you did not pass inspection the Department of Ag had the power to shut down your business.

There were two possible outcomes when the initial hearings took place. Most of us believed it was just another way for the government to sit back and collect yet even more money they had no right to have. We all wondered what took them so long to figure out that the pet industry generated billions of dollars a year. It would be a perfect venue for them to stick their money grubbing hands into it. The second that if indeed they were really going to protect the animals it would be a great thing and it would put the abusive or people who endangered pets out of business.

“In 2004-2005 the PACFA staff issued 1784 licenses, maintained compliance of the PACFA rules, issued several fines and cease and desisted a number of pet care facilities.”

There is not one person who has yet to be aware of any cease and desist orders. Nor does the Dept of Ag list any on their web site or any infractions facilities might have had to the general public. The one group of people who need to know that information. Most of us in the industry know of people who should be shut down for either injury to pets, deaths, filth, puppy mills and a host of other concerns. We in the pet industry are also aware that there are far more than 1,784 pet related business facilities in the Denver/Metro area. The number is actually close to 3,000 if you included animal shelters, which the Dept of Ag does. However, many shelters, grooming facilities, vet offices, etc., are still up and running and this might be explained by the following.

In the 11 years this has been in practice Curbside Clippers had been inspected twice. Yes, count them, that is two (2) times in all the 11 years. Many years ago when the inspector called to come look at the van here was our discussion.

Mimi – Well, this is a surprise! I have not seen you for years!
Inspector – We have been busy.
Mimi – Here is what I would like to know, why don’t I ever see you yearly as originally told?
Inspector – We only visit yearly those people who we are worried about. Curbside Clippers is not one of them.
Mimi – Then explain to me why I must pay the $250.00 fee every year for you to inspect my van when I never see you?
Inspector – Well, we are understaffed, not enough time to cover all of Colorado.
Mimi – Thanks, but that does not answer my question.
Inspector – Had no answer.
Mimi – To me it is just an excuse for the government to do what most of us feared. Sit back, do nothing, we pay your salary to do nothing but suck in money like the blood sucking vipers the government is. For all you know I could be beating dogs, duct taping their mouths shut like the other mobile company and never clean my van. I could give you any pile of crap if I were dishonest and you would believe it. Furthermore, those people who are always in trouble that you do not shut down as you say you are so diligent about should be paying 1,000′s of dollars in fines and not make the rest of us support them.
Inspector – We are trying to do better and signed off so I could get my license.

So if someone tells you they are licensed by the Dept of Ag it really means nothing. Some of us are talking with an attorney, others are considering not paying the fee. They have done what most of us feared the most. Put the Almighty dollar before the animals.

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