New Jersey Assembly Bill 3044, which seeks to create state oversight of dog groomers, was amended again earlier this week and is now scheduled for consideration and a vote by the full General Assembly this Monday, October 29, 2018. The American Kennel Club (AKC) appreciates recent amendments, including clarification that individuals who groom a dog to prepare it for a show or competitive event will not be subject to the regulatory program. The AKC encourages all concerned New Jersey citizens to contact their elected members of the General Assembly to express their concerns.
The AKC believes that health and safety should always be primary considerations when grooming a dog. In addition to other appropriate training, AKC recommends that professional groomers should pass a course and exam on basic health and safety standards, such as AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification or a similar program, prior to being licensed as a professional groomer. Grooming that is incidental to preparing a dog for a dog show or other exhibition should be conducted with similar care but should not be subject to licensing or professional grooming regulations.
Summary of A.3044 (as currently worded):
- Requires the licensing of pet groomers under a newly-created New Jersey State Board of Pet Groomers in the Division of Consumer Affairs. To be eligible for licensure as a pet groomer, an 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. No person may practice or attempt to practice pet grooming unless licensed.
- Exempts from licensure a registered student in a school licensed by the board if the student is performing grooming services under appropriate supervision at the school in which they are enrolled; an individual engaged in performing grooming services while not enrolled in a school if the individual is at least 16 years of age and performs those services under the direct supervision of a licensed pet groomer and while training in preparation of the pet groomer’s licensing examination; or an individual who grooms a dog or cat to prepare it for a show or competitive event.
- Fails to explicitly require consideration of past formal training and on-the-job experience of current professional pet groomers as justification for licensure.
- Sets forth licensure and renewal fees at $75 and $50, respectively.
- Authorizes the new State Board of Pet Groomers to implement continuing education requirements for licensees.
- Establishes operating standards for pet groomers, including allowing the use of cage dryers if owners grant informed written consent.
- Provides a definition of “pet incident” and requires reporting of such an incident within 10 days.
- Revises the effective date of the bill to allow for the immediate establishment of the State Board of Pet Groomers so as to allow the administrative work to begin.
- Requires licensure of grooming schools and registration of grooming businesses in New Jersey.
As currently worded, professional groomer oversight would be established and run by the state, including developing exams, licensing tracking, and maintaining initial and continuing education standards and records. This will require the state to expend significant financial resources. Alternatively, we urge the Assembly to consider a public-private partnership, with the American Kennel Club’s S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification Program or an equivalent professional program, which would allow the state to more quickly implement grooming safety standards without incurring a significant fiscal impact.
What You Can Do:
New Jersey residents are encouraged to contact their elected members of the General Assembly to express any concerns they have with A.3044. Additionally, encourage them to adoption additional amendments to establish a public-private partnership with AKC S.A.F.E or similar safety certifications.
New Jersey residents: click here to find your Assembly member.
AKC’s Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will provide additional updates on A.3044 and other pending New Jersey legislation as developments warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.