AKC S.A.F.E Salon Program - Groomer to Groomer Magazine
AKC S.A.F.E Grooming Program

AKC S.A.F.E Salon Program

By Staff

The AKC Safety in the Salon course, taught by Susan Sholar, an AKC Delegate and grooming judge, was a huge sensation at Groom Expo this past September in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Part of the excitement was that all groomers who attend the course were eligible, at no additional charge, to become AKC Safety Certified Groomers and receive a frameable certificate to proudly display in their salon.

Melody Coleman from Waxhaw, North Carolina traveled 512 miles to attend the course and found it to be “outstanding”. Melody felt “zoonotic diseases, how to prevent them and what symptoms to look for” was exceptionally useful information.

Savannah Cannon from Independence, Missouri traveled 1,028 miles to attend the AKC Safety in the Salon course. She also thought the course was outstanding. Savannah loved learning about, “UV lights for additional disinfecting.” She plans to apply this knowledge to better her salon and provide higher quality care to her clients.

Brittney Davis who traveled 600 miles from Indian Trail, North Carolina found the class to be “very informative, outstanding and Susan Sholar was knowledgeable and enthusiastic.”


One of the most highly debated questions in the grooming industry at this time is, “Should groomers be licensed?” Most groomers believe that there should be some way of separating them from a person who simply reads a book, watches a YouTube video or two, and thinks they can be a groomer. Required state licensing would solve that problem but would create a whole new set of problems that involve government bureaucracy and interference. The AKC S.A.F.E Salon Certification Program is an attempt to bridge that gap.

The first step in becoming AKC S.A.F.E Salon Certified is to take the course either at a show or online. “The AKC S.A.F.E. Groomer and Salon program covers a number of issues,” states Susan Sholar. “One of the first priorities and of utmost importance is humane handling of animals, while at the same time keeping the groomer safe. We all have un–socialized dogs enter our salon and they take a different touch and a lot of patience. Those are also the ones that make us appreciate the well–socialized dogs we also see in our salons. Groomer safety is just as important, therefore, we cover how to avoid injuries and sometimes just downright dangerous situations.”

Sholar goes on to state, “Salon safety for all who work and patronize the salon is another consideration when reviewing how to make your salon safe for humans and pets alike. Health issues can be present with any animal that comes in for grooming. If it is a health issue that you need to use special products on, how would you best handle the grooming in a manner that would not exacerbate the problem at hand? Or is it a health issue that should be referred to the veterinarian before you can accept the pet into your salon?”

The class covers diseases that are communicable among the pets in your salon; as well as, zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases being those diseases that can transfer to other species. 

“Know what your county or state requires of your grooming salon,” Sholar advises. “Regulations can vary from state to state, even city to city. Therefore, the course gives a number of issues you should be aware of and what government departments you will need to work with to obtain those regulations and ensure you are in compliance. We also do not want to ignore the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is a federal administration that has regulations to avoid injuries or death in the workplace.”

This course is directed to Groomers and Salon owners; however, it is recommended to anyone within a salon that will be handling animals or making the decision whether an animal is one that the salon can accept based on temperament or health issues. These employees could be bathers or receptionists.

“Our goal is to avoid being the groomer on the 6:00 p.m. news due to an avoidable injury to a pet and the pet injured is the name of the next animal legislation you may see in your state. Most groomers are extremely dedicated to their profession and the pets in their care. Groomers become attached to many of these pets and establish wonderful relationships with the pets’ owners. We hope to help the groomer maintain all of this with the AKC S.A.F.E. Certification Course,” Sholar concludes.

Grooming professionals who successfully complete the AKC Safety in the Salon course and pass the associated test are eligible to become AKC S.A.F.E. Groomers and Salons. At the center of the AKC S.A.F.E Grooming program is the Groomer/Salon Oath. Groomers and salon owners certify to follow the oath, which showcases their commitment to holding pet safety in the highest regard. Participants must submit an application demonstrating their grooming experience and pledge to safety.

AKC S.A.F.E. Groomers and Salons receive a frameable certificate to display in their business, a complimentary one-year AKC GroomerFinder profile listing, and other valuable marketing materials from the AKC. Contact AKC Groomer Education at [email protected] to learn more. ✂

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