Your dog can be groomed, but forget about a ribbon

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Your dog can be groomed, but forget about a ribbon

Stop tearing your hair out if your pets are looking disastrous. They can be neatened up ... with conditions

Consumer journalist
You can now have your pet groomed in level 4, but only on medical, health or welfare grounds.
Back in business You can now have your pet groomed in level 4, but only on medical, health or welfare grounds.
Image: Reuters/David W Cerny

It’s official — pet groomers can operate again, provided their service is justified on medical, health or welfare grounds, and not merely “bows-on-poodles” cosmetic.

The “moral and ethical victory” came at the weekend after a long battle by the National Pet Grooming Association of SA (NPGASA) to have grooming services classed as an essential service, under the Disaster Management Act.

Pet groomers resumed their services on Monday.

“We have finally received official communication from Brigadier JA van der Walt, section head: Operational Legal Support, Division: Legal and Policy Services, SAPS,” NPGASA’s Roeleen Bloemhof posted on the association’s Facebook page on Friday evening.

The letter states: “The matter was discussed this afternoon in the Legal and Regulatory Workstream, and it was agreed that pet grooming services is an essential service, to the extent that the service is rendered for animal medical, health or welfare purposes and not for cosmetic purposes.”

Bloemhof said the organisation had argued that it was vital that companion animals, which owners were not able to groom themselves, had access to professional grooming services.

We’ve had endless client calls about nails growing too long and hurting paws, and coats being too long and getting knotted, as well as ear problems.

Many older dog owners were not able to wash their dogs, for example, because the agitated animals scratched their (the owner’s) thin skin, Bloemhof told Times Select.

Some grooming parlours, which resumed operations when the country moved into level 4 on May 1, had been intidimated by members of the SAPS, she said, “along with [a] few veterinarian practices doing grooming”.

The NPGASA has been at pains to explain to the pet grooming industry what “medical, health and welfare purposes” means in relation to grooming that can now be performed.

Medical procedures include treating, preventing or alleviating any inflammatory or infectious skin conditions, including moist eczema; self-trauma due to matted coat; skin damage due to urine and faecal contamination of the coat; treating, preventing and alleviating ear inflammation and allergic skin conditions through the use of medicated shampoo; ear cleaning and treating flea and mite infestations with the appropriate parasiticides and shampoos.

Health-related procedures include alleviating pain and discomfort caused by a matted coat, overgrown nails, hair in ear canals, overgrown facial hair injuring eyes; thorough brushing of double-coated breeds to prevent matting; and restoring the condition of the pet’s coat to a clean and tidy state, making it possible for the owner to maintain it themselves for a reasonable period of time.

The routine grooming of otherwise clean pets that do not suffer from any conditions would be considered cosmetic.

Welfare reasons include cases where a pet’s “poor physical hygiene” negatively affects the animal-human bond. For example, where a pet is banished from the home due to being dirty or does not receive the usual affection from its owner, or where the unhygienic condition of the pet poses a health risk to its owners and where the owners of the pet are unable to provide the essential grooming their pet requires due, for example, to their own physical limitations, the large size and/or difficult temperament of the pet, and the lack of grooming skills and specialised grooming equipment required to groom their particular breed of pet.

“The routine grooming of otherwise clean pets that do not suffer from any of the above conditions would be considered cosmetic and is prohibited during level 4,” the NPGASA said.

“The brigadier has undertaken to NPGASA that his office will disseminate this information to all SAPS at operational level as soon as possible,” Bloemhof said.

“Failure of a member of NPGASA to adhere to these provisions and restrictions constitutes a breach of the Covid-19 regulations and can lead to the criminal prosecution by the SAPS of the member concerned.

“We urge our members to respect these requirements and abide by them.”

Responding to the news, a Durban-based dog groomer said: “The pets have certainly suffered in our Durban heat since lockdown.

“We’ve had endless calls about nails growing too long and hurting paws, and coats being too long and getting knotted, as well as ear problems.

“I’m proud to go back and get them out of their discomfort.”

GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler for advice with your consumer issues via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler.

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