New Jersey Assembly Bill 3044, which seeks to create state oversight of dog groomers, is scheduled to be considered by the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee on Monday, October 15. The American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned with two aspects of A.3044, which include the vagueness of the current wording believed to exempt handlers of show dogs from the regulatory scheme; and the costliness of a state-run program when private alternatives, including AKC’s S.A.F.E. Groomer Program, are available. The AKC encourages all concerned New Jersey citizens to contact the members of the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee to express their concerns with A.3044.
The AKC believes that appropriate grooming to ensure health and wellbeing is part of responsible dog ownership. The time an owner spends grooming a dog helps to build the bond between dog and owner. 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 Salon Safety 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.
A.3044 is expected to be significantly amended during the Monday hearing, and is expected to:
- Name the state’s Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs as the official responsible for oversight of the new pet groomer oversight program, including matters related to licensure. The bill, as introduced, placed the program under the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
- Create a Pet Groomers Advisory Committee to advise the Director on all groomer licensing matters, including assistance in developing the examination required to determine an applicant’s competence to practice pet grooming.
- Prohibit operations as a pet groomer, pet grooming business, or pet grooming school in New Jersey unless licensed or registered according to the Act.
- Explicitly exempt from licensure, “An individual who grooms a pet in the course of preparing it for a competitive pet show industry event.” The AKC is requesting this language be amended to clarify that grooming performed in preparation for a dog show, cat show, or other sanctioned event be excluded.
- Establish operating standards for pet groomers, including allowing the use of cage dryers if owners grant informed written consent.
- Charge the Director with writing rules for continuing education as a condition of license renewals, and subject matter and content standards for continuing education requirements.
- Require health or safety incidents to be reported to the Director within 10 days of occurrence.
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. A public-private partnership, like with the American Kennel Club’s S.A.F.E. Grooming Program or an equivalent professional program, would allow the state to more quickly utilize grooming standards without incurring a significant fiscal impact.
What You Can Do:
Concerned New Jersey residents are encouraged to contact the members of the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee prior to its Monday, October 15th meeting, to express concerns with A.3044; and/or to attend Monday’s meeting, which is scheduled for 1PM in Committee Room 15, 4th Floor, of the State House Annex, 131 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08608.
Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin
855 Valley Road
Clifton, NJ 07013
Assemblywoman Angelica M. Jimenez
5600 Kennedy Blvd.
West New York, NJ 07093
Assemblyman Christopher P. DePhillips
201C Franklin Ave.
Midland Park, NJ 07432
Assemblywoman Amy H. Handlin
225 Route 35
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Assemblyman Sean. T. Kean
1967 Highway 34
Wall Township, NJ 07719
Assemblyman R. Bruce Land
1117 E. Landis Avenue
Vineland, NJ 08360
Assemblyman Pedro Mejia
1 Harmon Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty
129 Johnson Road
Turnersville, NJ 08012
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
1 Deer Park Drive
Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
Other Bills Being Heard in Trenton on Monday, October 15:
Senate Bill 2674 – Makes minor revision to the wording of standard for warrantless seizure of animal at risk due to violation of law concerning necessary care and tethering of animals (Senate Environment and Energy Committee).
Senate Bill 2849 – Designates the Seeing Eye Dog as State Dog (Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee).
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.