Ask Hopeful Henry: Is a special license required for a pet groomer? |

Ask Hopeful Henry: Is a special license required for a pet groomer?

I received an anonymous letter from someone who had a negative experience at a local pet groomers. I won't say which groomer, as I can not validate the complaint because I could not contact the author of the letter. However, the person who wrote the letter wanted to know why there was no special license or permit required for pet groomers.

I found out some interesting facts while investigating this issue. Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, author of Senate Bill 969, wanted to provide pet owners "peace of mind" by creating a voluntary certification program. Groomers would have to complete about 900 hours of training and pay fee to be certified by the state — a designation that amounts to a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

State Sen. Vargas' wrote Senate Bill 969, "Lucy's Law", which created a voluntary certification program for the pet grooming industry. The bill, authored in an effort to prevent injuries and fatalities to pets resulting from visits to the pet groomer, passed in 2012. While this bill is not a requirement for a specific kind of license it is a start in the right direction by professionalizing the pet grooming industry and ensuring that groomers are properly trained and pets are protected from harm, with this certification program in place, owners can feel confident that they are leaving their pet in the hands of groomers that care to be trained at the highest standard available in California.

Vargas' initial aim was to force California's pet groomers to obtain a state license that would have required them to pass an exam and carry insurance, much like a beautician license. But that proposal lost much of its bite after facing opposition from small-business groups. A similar bill stalled in 2005.

Vargas, authored SB 969 after learning about Lucy, a small Yorkshire terrier mix, who sustained multiple injuries during a routine trip to the groomer. Among these injuries were: a detached retina, a severed ligament in her leg, and lacerations to five of her eight nipples.

Outside of Lucy's case, there have been thousands of life-threatening injuries to pets over the years because of negligent and under-trained pet groomers who use improper techniques when grooming animals. Injuries from these negligent acts range from severe lacerations because of improper usage of grooming tools, toe injuries, broken bones caused by the animal being dropped, eye injuries, and in the most severe of cases, death.

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When it comes to getting laws like this passed it is up to us — the community — to get involved. Contact your representatives in the senate and assembly to find out what is going on, what bills are out there and which way they plan to vote.

If you find a bill you are interested in let your representative know what you think and how you want them to vote. To find out who your representative are is check out a good site to find out what bills are being proposed is from there you can search in the area "bill information" that will allow you to search bills by keywords.

It is up to each individual consumer to ask their pet groomer if they have certification and provide proof that they do, to look over the facility to make sure it is clean, to ask for references and to do your best to make sure the groomer you are hiring meets your personal standards. If you have a nervous or high-strung pet I highly recommend using your veterinarian for grooming services. Yes, it does cost a little more but the well being of your furry friend is worth it.

Submit your questions or letters via email to or by mail to P.O. Box PET, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. Visit the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA on Facebook at You can also become a Facebook friend of Hopeful Henry at