We do not just play with puppies all day . Lots of young people and even adults I know think "I would love to have your job!" "I love dogs, this must be SO MUCH FUN!" but they have no idea what really goes on in this industry and we need to speak up more and let everyone know what really goes on.
It IS rewarding to make puppies pretty; to free dogs and cats from the mats that pull skin, hurt and sometimes result in their death (it is rare but it happens). It is also tiring. Dangerous. Life altering (at times).
If you are not prepared, work alone, work in small spaces...can anyone hear you scream? Do you have an exit strategy? Do you have safety precautions in case of an accidental slip or fall? Do you have a way to call for help if you need it? The following suggestions may just save your life.
- Worry about YOURSELF first, the dog last
- Have a place to go to get away
- Have a phone in your pocket
- Consider a life alert necklace
- Have a panic button keychain on you at all times EASY to get to
- If you are in a salon have panic buttons in every room and in places you frequent.
- Have cameras so people can check in on you if you are alone
- Check in with family or friends frequently when working alone
The 22 year old groomer in MA has a Go Fund me page set up with more photos. Sienna's Support Fund The photo below has been widely circulated on Facebook grooming groups.
The dog was under a police chief's order to be muzzled in public. He should have NEVER been in a grooming shop! People are upset because of PetSmart's muzzle policy and the fact that Sienna owns a pitbull (some are blaming her for her injuries in fact) but lets lay blame where it falls. SQUARELY on the dog and the dog's owner.
The owner of the dog caused this injury to this young woman (and another woman three months prior) because he thought it would not happen again. He thought the dog needed a bath and was unable to do it himself. HIS CARELESSNESS has cost the women in the maulings quality of life and mental stability and the dog his life. Was all of it worth a bath? A walk? Would a muzzle have stopped this attack? Maybe. BUT Sienna had no way of knowing that this was a dangerous dog. The owner did not say to her "You cannot take the muzzle off per order of the police".
While we are on this topic, do you know who has the dangerous dogs in your town? The ones that AC has deemed dangerous. The ones that have repeated bite histories or maulings? Does AC have an obligation to tell us? If not WHY NOT? Do you share with other groomers who the dangerous dogs are you refuse to groom again? DO YOU TELL THE OWNERS when their dogs bite, scratch, nip or fight you???? If not WHY NOT?????
Less horrible injuries are detailed below.
My own facial bite is documented here: Only a matter of time I am lucky that you cannot tell it happened unless you know to look for it.
Dean Mazurkiewicz has a story of a bather taking a dog from the owner to walk it into the back to get a bath who had her nose torn off completely. She did NOTHING WRONG, it just happened. That young girl never came back to work. I don't blame her.
IF you are alone and you fall due to a dog jumping on you, a wet floor, getting hit in the head by a flying dryer hose (You know it has happened to you!) or a medical condition (such as the seizure that left two beagles dead from hanging while the groomer laid on the floor unconcious) WOULD THERE BE HELP COMING? In many cases, OK MOST cases, NO. NO HELP would be coming. This is where panic buttons associated with alarm systems are not going to help much. You need a fall alert button if you work by yourself most of the time or completely.
There is also the horrible story of Sarah Shoe in North Carolina who's boyfriend was being attacked by a neighbor and the fight escalated to her fearing for her family's life. She called 911 for help and by the time they arrived the intruder was dead and more people were trying to get into her shop. If she had not had a gun on her, her boyfriend Chris, herself and her grandchildren might be dead. I know some of you are anti-gun but you need to be able to protect yourself from a distance. I hear all the time "I have shears I am safe"...no. NO you are not. A gun. Mace. Pepper Spray. A fire extinguisher. Wasp or Bear spray. THOSE will help you stay safe. Shears? WELL the intruder has to be very very close to use those.
Sarah lost her home, her business and her livelihood during that attack that all started over a dispute with the water bill for their complex! She has been cleared of all charges and the shooting was deemed self defense, but her life is shattered right now. As is Sienna's life in MA. My life has been changed forever. As was the girl who lost her nose. As are MANY of the people who go un -named though we know they exist who are permanently injured, scarred, traumatized or KILLED by dogs or in the course of their work with dogs.
SO? are you prepared? Are you ready to work tomorrow? Do you know what questions to ask? How to read dog body language? Panic buttons ready? Fall alerts in place?
I will cover a few basic safety measures to help keep YOU and the DOGS safe next. ALL of these posts will tie together to make your grooming safer for you and the pets in your care.