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