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LETTER: Dog grooming essential to canine health

Nails, fur need regular trimming to avoid life-threatening, painful conditions says groomer in letter to the editor

GuelphToday has received the following letter to the editor from Cindy Hopkins, a local dog groomer who appeals for the health of pets.

A note to the public:

This pandemic forced many businesses to shut down and with good reason, to protect people from needless contact and avoid spreading a terrifying virus. As dog groomers we understood this two-week shutdown and it was manageable for most dogs to endure. Now that we are going a month further of mandatory shutdowns it is becoming clear that the situation needs to be reviewed and quickly.

Dog grooming is indeed an essential service to the dogs and if some allowances are not made immediately the dogs will have a pandemic of their own to endure caused by human neglect. The service that groomers provide to dogs was overlooked and not taken seriously.

Dog grooming is not just about making a dog "look pretty". It is about animal health and welfare. Many breeds of dogs continuously grow hair. They have been bred by people and created to require routine and regular maintenance. This maintenance includes: removal of hair between the pads of the feet, around the groin, bum, armpits and in between the eyes to name a few.

Their nails need to be trimmed at least every six weeks. If they are not they can grow to become so long that they curl into the dog's footpad or grow long enough that they start to push the dogs toes upward and make walking painful. If the hair in between the pads of the bottom of the foot is not removed it collects dirt, bacteria and forms a solid "chunk" of hair that would feel similar to walking with a rock in your shoe.

Along with this, their body hair grows and without proper brushing it becomes matted similar to a "pelt". This causes tight pulling on the skin, inability to move limbs in full extension, harbours bacteria and causes many skin issues to the dog. Groomers are trained for this and we have knowledge beyond just "cutting hair".

There are many accidents and trauma that can occur when an inexperienced person tries to clip or scissor a Dog. Bulgy-eyed breeds for one, can experience their eyeball popping out simply by having pressure placed to hard or in the wrong place when trying to hold their heads for trimming. Skin can be sliced open simply by lifting hair up while running clippers over it or attempting to scissor it because it forms a "tent" formation when lifted.

It's about knowing the dogs anatomy, using specialized tools that could potentially harm or kill a dog without the proper training, knowing how to navigate the dogs body in order to safely remove hair and some owners are able to care for a dog's coat at home and some could even do the nails but there are others who cannot due to age, mobility, knowledge, fear and danger to the dog.

Shut down for 2-3 weeks was understandable and it could be handled by most. Seeing as this is going to go on longer than anticipated makes us fear for what these dogs will endure. If owners do attempt to cut their own dogs at home there is major risk of injury both to the Dogs and the owner. If either happens it adds more activity to the hospitals and Vet Clinics.

A professional groomer can do a maintenance clip on a dog faster, safer and with less person to person contact than a visit to a Vet en tales At first we were told that any dog could go to the vet clinic to be groomed or have it's nails done. That is not the case at this time and people are being turned away for nail trims until the dog is in emergency condition. That is just cruel and not necessary.

I know human lives are valued over the lives of animals and I know this Virus can be deadly. I take it seriously and I respect every single person working on the front lines. I also know that the welfare of peoples pets (often the only Family they have) may have been overlooked in a hurry to secure safety measures. Please consider all that I have mentioned and keep in mind that a single groomer operating in a isolated salon with firm safety measures in place including curbside drop off, social distancing, e transfer payments and a long list of protective sanitary techniques in shop can easily groom a dog with very minimal risk.

People going into a liquor store have more contact and frequency than a bi-monthly grooming appointment would. People ordering take out or having food delivered are more at risk because the person making the food could be a carrier or contaminated. There are far more variables in those situations than there is in a solitary groomer taking in a dog.

If we continue to prevent groomers from working we will all be overwhelmed with critical cases once the ban is lifted. Even when the ban is lifted there will still be a COVID threat around for a long time and it can lead right back to isolation again. We need to keep everyone safe at the same time as avoiding a backlog of critical grooms.

WE NEED PEOPLE TO LET GUELPH DUFFERIN HEALTH KNOW THAT DOG GROOMING NEEDS TO BE ON THE LIST TO OPEN IN THE FIRST STAGE OF RE OPENINGS.  WE NEED TO LET MPP MIKE SCHREINER KNOW THAT GROOMING NEEDS TO BE FOCUSED ON.  If it doesn't get approval on the first stage of openings then it's going to be months without professional groomers operating and that is not fair to the dogs.

Cindy Hopkins