Rooney’s bill holding pet groomers accountable provides the right balance

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney said legislation (A4055) he sponsors requiring reckless pet groomers to register with state Division of Consumer Affairs is a more responsible alternative to Bijou’s law, a Democrat-sponsored bill on Monday’s Assembly agenda.

Rooney introduced his bill in May, but it did not receive a committee hearing.

“Licensing all groomers will create another unnecessary burden on small businesses they can’t afford,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “We don’t need more bureaucracy to protect our pets. Most groomers are reliable mom and pop Main-Street shops that survive by having strong relationships with their customers. We shouldn’t penalize all groomers because of the actions of a few.”

Rooney’s bill is in response to the deaths of three dogs that died during routine grooming appointments at two different PetSmarts in December 2017 and March 2018. Bijou’s Law is in response to the death of a Shih Tzu who died while being groomed at a pet salon in 2012.

Under Rooney’s measure, after three incidents in a calendar year, the groomer must register with the state Division of Consumer Affairs in the state’s attorney general’s office. If there are no other incidents after a year, the registration expires, but is extended an additional year for each additional complaint received.

Pet owners have 90 days to file a complaint after an alleged incident. The department will publish the groomer’s name, business address and a description of the incident on its website. Groomers must clearly post they have been cited for negligence in their facility. Violators will pay $1,000 a day for each day they continue to groom pets.

Bijou’s law creates a nine-member board of Pet Groomers independent of the state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that will be responsible for licensing standards and fees, registration and continuing education.

Applicants will pay $75 for an initial two-year license with a $50 renewal fee in addition to a two-year registration fee. To qualify for a license, groomers must be at least 18 years old, of good moral character and pass a board-approved exam.

The board will also work with each grooming school to develop curriculum.

“To have a pet die suddenly at the hands of a groomer is tragic,” concluded Rooney. “We need to provide a reasonable level of regulation to ensure their safety, not bury them in costly and unnecessary red tape. My bill holds groomers accountable, giving pet owners peace of mind. It’s a responsible solution that provides the right balance.”