Dog grooming bill would regulate the trade in New Jersey

“Bijou’s law” is named after a 6-year-old Shih Tzu who died after she underwent a grooming session at a New Jersey PetSmart store. (Photo Credit: CBS New York)

Should dog groomers be licensed? Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering passing a bill stating dog groomers would have to be at least 18 years of age, pass an exam approved by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and be of good moral character.

Bill A2264, also known as Bijou’s Law, was brought before NJ’s Assembly Regulated Professions Committee by Rosemary Marchetto, pet parent of Bijou, a 6-year-old Shih Tzu, who she took to her local PetSmart for a routine grooming session.

Marchetto tells NJ.com, “The pet groomer told me, ‘I hope this dog doesn’t give me a hard time. I had a hard day.’” Less than an hour after Marchetto, a Northvale, NJ, resident, dropped Bijou off at the store, she got a call that her dog died.

Marchetto settled out of court with PetSmart. How her dog died was not disclosed.

Marchetto told the Committee, “I never thought in a million years that nobody had to be licensed. I’m pleading with you to please make pet grooming a registered profession.”

While the Committee discussed the bill, a final decision was not reached. Part of the reason was that applicants would have to pay a licensing fee of $65 to $75, which would be passed on to consumers.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), found that there have been multiple injuries and deaths related to dog grooming. She said that businesses that serve the public need to be regulated. She also noted that the dog-grooming industry is unregulated and “no state currently has such a law.”

If the bill is passed, pet grooming businesses must also prove they have liability insurance, that their businesses are sanitary and pets have access to water, and that drying cages (kennels with circulating warm air) would not be used.

Several pet groomers showed up to oppose the bill. They are concerned that the licensing fee would increase the fees they charge clients.

Assemblywoman Huttle said she is open to work with supporters and opponents of the bill to amend it before it gets a vote.

Sources: NJ.com, CBS New York