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What we all should know about pet grooming & boarding: plenty of dollars, but little sense

Americans love their pets. In fact 2014 spending on pets reached $56 billion a year. The cost of grooming and boarding these pets is close to $5 billion. At this spending level, one would think that those who provide animal care would be most protective.

There were two incidents this past month that compelled me to write this blog on this particular topic. While I don’t consider myself knowledgeable about pet care, I wanted to share these two stories.

One of my clients has been an animal lover all her life. She has rescued many a dog and cares for her pets with great affection. She carefully screens all the people who care for her pets which includes checking for references and insurances. Just recently, her pet grooming service came to her house and her dog was groomed in the company van while on her property. Sadly, the dog was severely injured while in the groomer’s care. The dog’s leg was broken in several places and needed over $5,000 in veterinary care.

Upon contacting the owner of the company, my client found out that the grooming company had dropped their business and malpractice insurance. Having asked for proof of insurance at the time of hire, imagine her surprise to learn that the grooming company had dropped their insurance without notifying her. After researching grooming in New Jersey, she found that there are currently no rules governing licensing and insurance of pet grooming companies.

There is, however, a bill pending in NJ legislature known as Bijou’s law which would require that dog/animal groomers pass a state exam, have insurance, and be licensed. Bijou was a dog groomed at a large box store pet company and who died as a result of grooming while in their care. If Bijou’s law passes in this coming year, New Jersey will be the first State to enact such a law.

The second incident this month had to do with payments for the grooming and board of a pet. This past month, the owner of the pet boarding service advised my client that they had to make payments directly through the company’s bookkeeping system. (Keep in mind that if you are a merchant that accepts these types of payments, you are required to be PCI compliant. Simply, PCI compliant is a framework for developing a payment security process.) I am always happy to comply with requests, but I do take care to protect my clients’ bank and financial information. So, I politely asked where my client’s banking information would be stored – if it was on a personal computer, and, if so, what security measures might be in place to ensure that my client’s bank information was safe. I was shocked to learn that my client received a call from the owner saying that I asked too many questions, and, that, if they had to deal with me in the future, the client could take their business elsewhere. Obviously, the owner of this firm never considered being in compliance with NJ laws that require reasonable measures be set up for protecting personal bank and credit card information.

I suppose in an industry where so much money changes hands for the love of one’s pet, there are always individuals who are unprofessional, untrained, unlicensed, and who bully. Even with the love for one’s pet, there should not only be dollars but sense in pet care.