Concerns about the oversight of animal trainers and groomers started with well-publicized cases of animal cruelty resulting from the improper care of pets by certain trainers or groomers.

Several bills have been proposed to provide oversight of groomers and trainers.

Senate, No. 2625, as previously described, would establish animal grooming facility and animal training facility licenses; and also establish requirements for animal grooming and training facilities, and penalties for certain violations.

If enacted, animal groomers and trainers must:

  • Obtain a license from the municipal clerk in the municipality in which the animal grooming or training facility is or would be located; and
  • Comply with rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Health, establishing:
    • the license requirements for groomers and trainers and
    • the sanitation, disease control, and humane treatment of animals in animal grooming facilities and animal training facilities.

In addition to establishing these regulations, the Commissioner if Health must inspect these facilities upon the first licensing of the facility, and at least once per calendar year thereafter.

Another bill, A2264, requires animal groomers to be licensed by the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medicine.

 Specifically the applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be of good moral character; and
  • Pass an examination prepared by or approved by the board to determine the applicant’s competence to practice pet grooming.
  • This examination must include both a practical demonstration and a written test, and shall be consistent in both practical and technical requirements.

The practical examination requirement in A2264, is highly impractical – the Veterinary Board has, for quite some time, abandoned similar requirements for veterinarians because of the legal and practical complications associated with the drafting, implementation, and analysis of such testing.  Furthermore, in the absence of any nationally recognized comprehensive parameters for these services, it is difficult to establish eligibility requirements for licensure.

That said, New York City requires animal groomers and trainer (in addition to certain pet store staff) to obtain a “certificate indicating the successful completion of a course, acceptable to the Department [of Health], in the care and handling of such animals.”

Connecticut has regulated groomers since January 6, 1970, according to Joseph Holstead, reporting on existing state regulations in 2006 .

Connecticut requires:

  • Room requirements
    • A grooming facility established in a home must be in a room that (1) is separate from living quarters and at least 12 feet by 12 feet in size, (2) has a separate outside entrance, and (3) adequate lighting and ventilation.
  • Walls, Ceilings, and Floors
    • The facility’s walls and ceiling must be painted, paneled, or made of other suitable materials. The floors must be covered with a non-toxic, easily cleaned water impervious material.
  • Grooming Equipment
    • A grooming facility must be equipped with at least a bath tub, a grooming table, hot and cold running water, a drier, clippers, combs, brushes, and shears. All equipment must be sterilized after each use and kept in sanitary condition.
  • Drying Cages
    • Drying cages must be (1) kept clean and sanitary and (2) large enough to comfortably contain the dog. The regulations recommend the following dimensions: 22 inches to 24 inches wide, by 24 to 28 inches high, by 30 to 34 inches deep.
  • Exercise Area and Keeping Dogs Overnight
    • Grooming facilities that keep dogs for grooming for longer than four hours must have an indoor or outdoor dog exercise area. The exercise area must measure at least three feet by eight feet, with a covered top. Dogs cannot be kept overnight, unless the facility meets certain kennel licensing requirements.
  • Sanitation of Grooming and Exercise Areas
    • The groomer must keep the grooming area, and exercise area if necessary, disinfected, clean, and sanitary at all times (Ct. State Agency Regs. §§ 22-344-26 to 31).

Colorado has comprehensive licensing requirements for all pet-related facilities, including those providing grooming and/or training services.  All facilities must comply with the interior and exterior enclosure requirements, including cage sizes with specific specifications for different species.

Some trade associations, like the National Pet Groomers Association offer certification for groomers.

Beyond the criteria for standards for grooming and training, the proposed bills in New Jersey, similar to those in other jurisdictions, require proper sanitation of facilities and other measures to minimize the spread of infectious diseases therein.

The N.J. Department of Health’s exiting regulations provide for sanitation and disease control in animal kennels, shelters, and pounds.  These regulations could easily be expanded to include animal grooming and training facilities. 

However, for some groomers or trainers, it may be difficult to comply with those regulations, since they require interior surfaces that are impervious to moisture.  Wood or carpeted floors, common in homes and public facilities (where puppy training classes are often offered) are not impervious.  Perhaps some reasonable exceptions could be considered that provide for animal health, but permit grooming and training in those facilities where strict compliance is not possible.