November 13, 2006
By: Joseph Holstead, Associate Analyst
You asked us to compare Connecticut's dog grooming regulations to those in other states.
Connecticut law requires animal groomers to be licensed and comply with Department of Agriculture regulations and local zoning requirements. Under the regulations, grooming facilities must meet certain dimensional and other standards. Most other states do not regulate dog groomers, according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For example, we found no specific animal grooming regulations in Massachusetts, New York, or Rhode Island. We did however find regulations in Colorado law. Colorado's regulations are more stringent than Connecticut's, particularly in specifying that (1) a groomer may only tether a dog with the owner's consent and (2) someone must always watch a tethered animal.
HSUS, an organization that purports to protect all animals, called for tighter regulation after a recent incident in Connecticut in which a dog died at a groomer's shop. The National Dog Groomers Association of America, which offers training and certification for groomers, in response to that incident agreed that more regulation and education around the country would be beneficial, but stated most grooming shops are safe.
CONNECTICUT REGULATIONS FOR GROOMING ESTABLISHMENTS
State law requires the agriculture commissioner to develop regulations for grooming facilities addressing issues of sanitation, disease, humane treatment of animals, and protection of public safety (CGS § 22-344). The following regulations have been in effect since January 6, 1970.
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.
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 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'S GROOMING REGULATIONS
Although most states do not regulate dog groomers, Colorado has elaborate regulations. Certain of Colorado's regulations are similar to Connecticut's, but overall they are more detailed and cover a wider range or topics. For example, Colorado's regulations stipulate animal tethering is acceptable if the animal's owner gives consent. The person tethering the animal must make sure that it cannot become entangled with other animals or objects. The tether or grooming loop must be attached (1) to the dog with a well-fitted and non-tightening collar or loop and (2) at the other end to a permanent, solid attachment. All tethering chains or grooming loops must have a swivel. Grooming loops, tethers, or muzzles may only be used only under “constant direct human supervision.”
The regulations also require, for example, that the groomer annually keep an animal incident file, maintained for three years, at each facility, which covers:
1. injuries sustained while at the facility that required veterinary contact,
2. severe illnesses,
4. veterinary treatment plans,
5. death, or
6. escape (8 Code Colo. Regs. § 1201-11c-15).
We have attached a copy of the Colorado regulations for your reference or visit: http://www.ag.state.co.us/animals/PACFA/RulesAndRegulations/15.00Grooming.pdf.
CALL FOR MORE REGULATION
HSUS called for more regulations nationally and argued that states with regulations have insufficient ones, according to an October 9, 2006 article at a CBS affiliate's website, KDKA, in Pittsburgh, PA. The story is available at the following link: http://kdka.com/pets/local_story_282154843.html.
According to the article, more regulation is “…something the National Dog Groomers Association of America welcomes. Spokeswoman Nancy Hahn insists most facilities are safe but she admits busy shops and rushed groomers can cause problems. 'I think that's probably the most dangerous aspect of grooming shops…is trying to do too much,' said Han. Han says more education is needed to make sure pets are safe.”
This and another story we found were based on an incident that took place at a Connecticut dog grooming business in which a tethered dog, apparently left unattended at the groomers, died by strangulation. We have attached copies of both stories.
BACKGROUND: CONNECTICUT DOG GROOMING LAW
The law requires anyone engaged in the pet grooming business or who maintains a grooming facility to obtain a license from the Agriculture Commissioner. Licenses expire after one year and cost $100. The licensee may transfer his license to other premises with the commissioner's approval.
For the license, the commissioner must find that the applicant has complied with department regulations. For a first-time applicant, the commissioner must also find that the municipal zoning enforcement official where the groomer maintains shop has certified the facility as conforming to local zoning regulations (this requirement does not apply to facilities licensed before October 1, 1977 or existing before a municipal zoning change prohibiting such establishments).
Anyone maintaining a grooming facility without a license or after such license has been revoked or suspended is subject to a $100 fine. (This law does not apply to veterinary hospitals, except those boarding or grooming dogs for non-medical purposes, and other establishments where all the dogs or animals were born and raised on the premises and kept there for sale.)
Facility Inspection, Penalty, and Licensee Recourse
The law allows the commissioner at any time to inspect (or have his agents inspect) any commercial grooming facility. If the commissioner finds the grooming facility licensee is not (1) maintaining the facility in a sanitary manner, (2) treating animals humanely, or (3) protecting public safety he may issue orders necessary to the correct these conditions and may quarantine the premises and animals. He may also take these corrective actions if he finds contagious, infectious, or communicable disease or other unsatisfactory conditions exist.
If a grooming facility owner or keeper fails to comply with (1) the commissioner's regulations or orders or (2) the law or regulations relating to dogs or other animals, the commissioner may revoke or suspend his license.
The law allows anyone aggrieved the commissioner or his agent, having exhausted all administrative remedies available with the state agency, to appeal in superior court under CGS § 4-183 (CGS § 22-344).