Massachusetts Bill Aims To Regulate Pet Groomers

Regulating pet groomers is up for legislation in Massachusetts again under Senate Bill 186.

Legislation seeking to regulate pet groomers has once again been introduced in Massachusetts. Senate Bill 186, introduced by Sen. Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield), calls for the licensing of pet groomers and would establish a state board to oversee the licensing process. The measure also sets forth a number of provisions for pet grooming facilities.

The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) has issue an alert about the proposal, claiming it includes “questionable standards.” A public hearing on SB 186 is scheduled for May 19 before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure.

Senate Bill 186 defines a pet groomer as someone who is “licensed as a bather/brusher, all-breed basic groomer or all-breed master/teacher groomer engaged in the practice of pet grooming, who bathes, brushes, clips or styles a pet for financial remuneration.”

The measure calls for the establishment of a Board of Registration of Pet Groomers, which would consist of four licensed pet groomers with at least five years experience and one representative from the public. The board would be responsible for:

• Providing for and regulating the practice of pet grooming
• Providing for and regulating the apprenticeship of pet groomers
• Setting sanitary rules
• Overseeing the process of examinations for licensure, such as prescribing the subjects, time, manner and place of examinations
• Issuing licenses to individuals who pass examinations in bathing/brushing, all-breed basic grooming and all-breed master grooming/teaching.
• Overseeing the process of registering pet groomers
• Maintaining a list of the names and addresses of licensed pet groomers along with a public record of any license suspension, revocation or other disciplinary action
• Reinstating a suspended license and registration in any case where a majority of the board members approve
• Establishing standards for the operation and approval of continuing education programs

Under the proposal, individuals seeking licensure must be at least 18 years old and “of good moral character” before being permitted to take an examination in any of the three categories. In addition, prior to taking the exam, prospective licensees would have to complete a certain amount of training at a registered and accredited school, organization or association, or as an apprentice under a licensed all-breed basic groomer or all-breed master groomer. Those seeking licensure as an all-breed groomer or as an all-breed master groomer/teacher also have the option of presenting proof of certification from a national groomer association approved by the board.

Once licensed, each groomer must keep and maintain records for each cared for animal for two years from the date of service. Groomers must also prove they are sufficiently insured to cover any liability for negligent acts.

SB 186 defines a pet grooming facility as “a mobile or permanent commercial establishment where a pet may be bathed, brushed, clipped, styled or have its appearance maintained, or a shop in which a licensed pet groomer or stylist or a holder of a limited license provides a service for which a license is required under this Act.”

Pet grooming facilities would be subject to the following provisions, among others:

• Pets not undergoing the grooming process must be kept in structurally sound cages that allow them to make normal, postural adjustments.
• Each pet must be caged separately.
• Outdoor facilities must not be used in inclement weather.
• Indoor facilities must be maintained at a healthy temperature.
• Sanitary conditions must be maintained at all times.
• Adequate water for drinking and bathing must be provided at all times.
• Pets may not be left unattended.

In its alert, issued May 18, PIJAC says it is unclear how the proposed bill would function. For example, PIJAC asks what cost controls would be employed for those providing training so as to prevent groomers from facing exorbitant costs in an effort to become licensed.

PIJAC recommends the bill be sent to a study group to examine “the many issues,” and that input from pet groomers be considered.

Click here to view SB 186.

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