California may soon require groomers to earn licenses

While most pet groomers are experienced and professional, some have been making headlines for bad reasons, prompting pet owners and politicians to wonder what can be done to protect animals.

SB 969 is dubbed “Lucy’s Law,” after a Yorkshire Terrier who was injured during a grooming session. (Photo credit: David Martin)

A proposition by California State Senator Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) would require mandatory vocational licenses for all practicing pet groomers in the state.

California Senate Bill 969 outlines stricter guidelines for groomers and their businesses, providing standards of practice for everything from the size and condition of cages to the quality of lighting at the grooming facility. The bill also outlaws the use of drying cages, which can cause overheating and, in some cases, have had deadly consequences.

To earn licenses, all groomers would have to pass an exam administered by the state and then pay a licensure fee of as much as $350. Failure to do so could result in a hefty fine of up to $2000. Serious infractions could even earn unlicensed groomers a yearlong stay in jail.

Pet owners have largely expressed support for the proposed bill, saying that these new requirements would give piece of mind.

Groomers in California have had a mixed reaction to the idea. Some have expressed their opposition, saying that there is no way that education and exams could take the place of on-the-job experience. Other groomers welcome the bill and the opportunity to prove their skills and expertise by earning official vocational licenses.

“The reality is that it’s not a good idea in pet grooming to learn on the job only when you’re dropping pets, when you’re killing pets, when you’re breaking their little limbs, when you’re shaving their nipples off. That’s not the way you do it,” says Senator Vargas. Senator Vargas has nicknamed the bill “Lucy’s Law”, after a Yorkshire Terrier injured after a trip to the groomer. Lucy’s nipples were shaved off, and other injuries included a detached retina and a torn ligament in her leg.