Standards in Practice

What the Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Alliance’s Standards of Care for Safety and Sanitation mean to you and your business.


Groomers responded to the Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Alliance’s (PPGSA) new Standards of Care for Safety and Sanitation with cautious optimism and widespread support when they were released in September at Groom Expo, in Hershey, Pa. The principles these standards reflect, the attention to detail, the application of expertise and experience—taken together, they represent an industry committed to responsibility and animal well-being. It is no surprise that individual groomers and stylists are eager to show their customers that they embrace these standards.

But how? The PPGSA has received numerous inquiries from individuals, institutions and observers alike, all interested in applying the standards in their own ways.  Here are a few recommendations for each.

Individual Groomers and Stylists
Easily the most frequent question we receive is “How can I become a member of the PPGSA?” Conscientious professionals, wanting to demonstrate their dedication to the principles outlined in the standards, are looking for something they can point to with pride. As the standards continue to garner public attention, educated customers are looking for assurance that their chosen stylist is committed to their pets’ care.

While the PPGSA is not an individual membership organization, members of the alliance include national dog and cat grooming and styling associations, as well as grooming schools and training programs that have committed to incorporating the PPGSA standards into their training, certification and continuing education programs. Interested professionals are welcome to work with any of them.

But the standards are more than just a checklist and, as such, some of the things that individuals can do to best demonstrate compliance don’t require any institutional involvement at all. Share the standards with clients and talk about your practices during intake or pick up. Share them with your employees if you own your own business and then hold them to these standards. Share them with your employer or prospective employer. Show them all your commitment to these standards and invite them to learn more.

Educational and Training Institutions
Organizations that train, teach and certify groomers and stylists are encouraged to reach out to the PPGSA to discuss ways in which the standards can be incorporated into existing educational and certification programs. It can be as simple as adding the standards in their entirety, or it can be done by comparing the standards document to a current curriculum to make sure everything is covered. Once this is accomplished, PPGSA can work with institutions to publicly confirm their adherence to the standards.

These standards simply wouldn’t exist without the cooperation and collaboration of more than a dozen organizations that work to train and support individual groomers and stylists, but there are many more schools, programs and groups out there. Ideally, we would like to connect with all of them to formalize these standards of care as a basis of knowledge for responsible, professional groomers and stylists.

Institutions can also help spread the word about the standards themselves and the professional grooming industry’s commitment to them. They can publish the document on their websites, either directly or via link. They can encourage continuing education that stresses these elements. And they can hold their students and members to the standards to show the public that responsible groomers and stylists do not tolerate inattention, carelessness or disregard for animal well-being.

Outside Observers
This category includes the general public, pet owners and even elected officials who are looking at groomers with an eye toward possible certification or licensing. Their questions are naturally aimed at better understanding how these standards are being used to ensure the highest quality care for animals entrusted to groomers and stylists.

Pet owners can and should be our partners in this. By taking the time to get to know their groomer or stylist, they can better understand the kind of care their companion animals will receive.  Questions about training, certifications and continuing education are all appropriate, and can be coupled with a discussion of the PPGSA standards document.

Government officials and their staff should be provided with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the elements of these standards before considering regulations on groomers and stylists. Developed with input from professionals with decades of hands-on experience, they represent the industry’s informed and reasoned approach to this very important issue. We as their constituents should reach out and make sure they hear from us, rather than waiting for incidents or activists to mischaracterize us and our commitment to animal well-being.

While these answers vary for each group, the overall message is the same. Prioritize care, safe handling and sanitary practices. Communicate that commitment. Reinforce it regularly. And remember that the best grooming relationships are built on trust and mutual respect among the stylist, the owner and the pet itself. If you’re doing that, the PPGSA Standards of Care will be your silent partner, supporting you without requiring anything additional in return.

Mike Bober is president and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. For more information, contact Bober at mbober@pijac.org.

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