Photos by David Woo
“Should groomers be licensed?” is one of the most highly debated questions in the grooming industry at this time. 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 A.K.C. S.A.F.E. Groomer and Salon program covers a number of issues,” states Susan Sholar. “One of the first and utmost of importance is, humane handling of animals while at the same time keeping the groomer safe. Sometimes 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 are 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.”
What is a disaster plan? Why do you need a disaster plan & how do you develop a disaster plan for your salon?
“This course is directed to Groomers and Salon owners; however, we recommend it to anyone within a salon that will be handling animals as well or making the decision about if an animal is one that the salon can accept based on temperament or health issues. These employees could be bathers or receptionist?” describes Sholar.
“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 pet’s owner. We hope to help the groomer maintain all of this with the AKC S.A.F.E. Certification Course,” Sholar concludes.
After speaking with Susan Sholar we wanted to gather more first–hand information and experience from an AKC S.A.F.E Certified salon owner so we spoke to Jacki Panzik. Panzik was asked what the benefits of the Certification are as a groomer and she responded with, “There are many, it gives our staff guidelines to follow for pet safety. They are more conscious of the fact that pets must be well taken care of and that safety is always our priority. We proudly hang our AKC S.A.F.E. Salon Certificate and point it out to new customers as well as regular customers. They are impressed by it as pretty much everyone recognizes the AKC as an authority when it comes to the care of the canine. Following the AKC guidelines has raised the level of safety and sanitation in our salons. It helps to create a culture of pride among our staff for standing out in our community as a reputable organization.”
The AKC S.A.F.E Salon Certification Program has been a huge success so far and we are excited to spread the benefits and joy to other groomers and clients. Take a look at some of the rave reviews the program has already received:
“Should be mandatory for all groomers! Well done.”
“Everything before the exam was very easy to follow. I really enjoyed learning more and feeling confident in the process.”
“Very in–depth. Great examples. Insanely knowledgeable.”
“Very user friendly and informative. This should be the standard for all groomers.”
“Wide coverage of safety risks. I liked the parts about diseases and how to deal with them. So much information. I love the handout so I could listen easier. Lots of great info in small amount of time.”
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.