Veterinarians, groomers and animal welfare advocates including myself are calling on the Victorian Government to deem all dog grooming services an essential service, to help thousands of dogs that are currently suffering severe pain and health issues due to the current restrictions.
With over 80,000 domestic dogs and only 1300 groomers in metropolitan Melbourne, these groomers were struggling to keep up with the backlog and demand for their services even prior to the current lockdown.
This is being compounded further for every day dogs can’t be groomed, causing grave concern for the widespread welfare of our dogs as we head into Spring and Summer, which will put significant numbers of dogs at risk of heatstroke and other serious illnesses and injuries. Groomers and veterinarians are already under significant stress, and are at breaking point as they are unable to keep up with the demand and calls for help from desperate pet owners begging for their help.
Our own Pooches at Play resident Vet, Dr Melissa Meehan, says the situation and health issues she is seeing in dogs unable to be groomed is of grave concern. She’s seeing dogs with conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers from matted hair around and poking into their eyes, dermatitis from matted overgrown coats, ear infections, ingrown nails and dogs walking with trepidation and lameness as their nails are so long.
There are dogs who have been unable to defecate due to matted buttocks, and some longer haired dogs unable to walk due to the pain caused by matted hair pulling at their skin, so all dog grooming services must be allowed to operate. They have proven they can operate in a Covid safe, contactless way as well so it should be deemed an essential service.
Only limited dog grooming services can open
While the Victorian Government has now allowed Pet Retail Stores to provide Welfare Grooming Services this is just not going far enough as dog grooming is absolutely an essential animal welfare service, not just when things have gotten so bad that it requires a visit to the vet.
Far too many dogs in Victoria are suffering in silence so I have started an Parliamentary E-petition and am asking all Victorian residents that care about our dogs to take 1-minute to sign the E-petition so we can get it tabled in parliament as soon as possible.
Jeff Bournman MP from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP for Eastern Victoria has sponsored the petition and once it closes on 17 September, he will table it at the next available parliamentary seating.
“Animal welfare during the pandemic is vital as companionship from a pet is helping people cope with the lockdowns. Having these companions in a poor state of health due to dog groomers not being able to operate efficiently in a COVID safe way, is causing great distress. Under current rules it is only possible to have a pet groomed if the owner takes the dog to a vet to obtain a certificate stating that its grooming is considered urgent. This is both clogging up vets’ time and costing pet owner’s money for a vet visit at a time when many families are already struggling financially.
This is not a viable long-term proposition. I call on the government to allow dog groomers to operate in a safe way with the proper precautions so that our beloved companions’ health can be maintained in the best condition possible”, he has said.
The backlog will seem many more dogs suffer
Melbourne-based dog groomer, Katelyn Ribchester has also provided her view, “We as the dog grooming services industry cannot understand how we can be asked to ignore the welfare of our clients any longer. With numerous systems put in place by groomers Australia-wide such the use of gates, pens or crates for the handover of animals, we can provide our service contact free.
“Since the start of this lockdown alone, I have had to cancel and reschedule over 400 dogs with the backlog and dogs in need growing by the day.
“It is causing us a great deal of distress because we do not have the answers to provide them and are having to turn away clients in dire need- knowing well we are sending them to Vet clinics that are already inundated with calls and bookings.
“If all groomers across Melbourne can’t open up immediately, we have no chance of getting all of the dogs that desperately need it done before their health or welfare suffers, let alone all of the other dogs that will be in dire straits once the hot weather hits.”
Sign the Victorian Parliamentary E-petition
The Victorian Government MUST realise that all dog grooming services should be opened and as soon as possible for the health and safety of our pets and the groomers who have to deal with the stressed and anxious over grown dogs.
Visit our Grooming section for some tips to help you with your home grooming needs to help in the meantime.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area, is a sought after pet expert speaker and Author of Eat, Play, Love (Your Dog).