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'Pets over profits': Lawmakers propose greater scrutiny for groomers

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After the death of several dogs at PetSmart locations across the state, New Jersey lawmakers want to tighten the rules around how pet groomers do business.

Under Assembly Bill 3044, which the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee approved at its Monday meeting, anyone looking to bathe, brush or style a pet in exchange for money would need a license.

A3044’s sponsors have dubbed the proposal “Bijou’s Law,” named after Bijou, a normal and healthy Shitzu who in 2011, after being dropped off at a Paramus PetSmart, died in the care of the groomer. An identical version of the bill in the upper house, Senate Bill 2514, was unveiled in May but has not advanced.

Under the Assembly measure, a pet groomer would have to be at least 18 years old and pass an examination by the state veterinary board.

A3044 sponsor Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-37th District, said the law is about New Jersey putting “pets over profits.”

 

“Americans spent $5.4 billion on pet boarding and grooming services this year. Until now, progress has been slow in regulating a business that has remained unchecked since its inception.”

-Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle

“Americans spent $5.4 billion on pet boarding and grooming services this year. Until now, progress has been slow in regulating a business that has remained unchecked since its inception,” Huttle said in a statement.

Licenses would have to be renewed every two years and pet grooming business would have to register with the state and provide proof of general liability insurance.

If while being groomed the pet escapes, sustains injuries, needs to visit a vet, contracts an illness or dies, the business would have to maintain an incident file with the board, according to the bill.

The board can revoke or suspend the license for a variety of violations, including failure to keep up with sanitary conditions, a lack of liability insurance and failure to maintain incident files.

“We must establish regulations that require anyone grooming a dog to be licensed and that the businesses offering grooming services be registered and monitored,” said Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez, D-32nd District, in a prepared statement. “This is the only way that we can ensure that dogs are cared for and treated humanely while being groomed.”

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