Neglect Of Owner's Duties | Groomer to Groomer Magazine
Neglect of Owners' Duties

Neglect Of Owner’s Duties

By Robyn Michaels

Show of hands:  how many of you have friends or relatives who think you play with dogs all day?  Who believes your shop is like something out of a movie or situation comedy?  That every dog is happy and well cared for?

I think most of us wonder what we can do about the violation of section a (3): veterinary care to prevent suffering. When I first started my grooming career in the early 1970s, I worked for a dog groomer who would give her clients an ‘ultimatum’ after she told them twice the dog needed veterinary attention: no new appointment until the dog’s medical issue had been dealt with. Twice I remember, it was dogs with bad teeth. Once it was a runny eye (related to teeth). The dogs immediately gained weight and seemed livelier. THEY WERE NO LONGER IN PAIN. We were not the only game in town. These clients could have gone elsewhere. They didn’t.

Unfortunately, I know too many groomers who will tell a client once, then ignore the issue because they are afraid they are going to lose the client (as though no other groomer is going to mention that the dog has an ear infection so bad that pus is coming out and the skin has necrosis). Disgusting, aggravating, infuriating.

I am a volunteer for a wonderful organization founded by a couple of dog trainers. The organization is It was founded to address animal cruelty and its effects on our community. We provide dog training classes in underserved communities, work with kids (and adults) in the justice system, and we volunteer as advocates for animals in the court system.


Setting this program up took years. We had to find friendly police, judges, and prosecutors who could understand that cruelty and violence towards humans often starts with animal cruelty.

We had to explain the laws, and how to interpret and enforce the laws. We had to get prosecutors to take animal crime seriously…and we continue having problems with police not gathering adequate evidence.

We do get people charged, and prosecuted. As I was writing this, charges were filed on a family whose home was filled with feces. Three dogs were confiscated (the police had been called on suspected domestic violence). We get people like you and me, volunteer court advocates, to show up in court on behalf of the animals. We wear court advocate badges, and we make sure the judges know we are there.

Generally, the charge of ‘neglect of owners’ duties’ is an added charge, to dog fighting, other cruelty, or hoarding. Recently, however, a veterinarian had a client charged. An older couple brought a dog into his animal hospital in a buggy. Not sure why they brought the dog in, but the dog was wearing a diaper which hadn’t been changed in….nobody knows how long. The dog, of course, had feces burning his skin.

How many clients do we see with feces stuck to the dog, or eyes sealed shut, or necrotic ears? Dogs with rotting teeth? It’s not just puppy mills, and we know it. I’ve had dogs come in with maggots.

We are afraid to turn these people in to local humane officers, aren’t we? I have told clients that their dog is in pain. I’ve suggested they contact local animal shelters which I know will treat dogs at a reduced cost if money is the issue. You know there has to be a psychological problem on the part of the owner when, six months later, they bring the dog back to you, and the dog is still in horrendous condition. 

Because I keep a reminder calendar, I’ve started noting on my calendar when I hope to see the dog again. If the dog doesn’t come in, I contact humane officers to do a well–being check. I am nearing retirement and don’t really care if I anger someone who doesn’t have the integrity to euthanize a dog in pain if they won’t have a veterinarian treat the dog. I’d like to know if any groomers have had any other solutions. ✂

(510 ILCS 70/3) (from Ch. 8, par. 703)
Sec. 3. Owner’s duties.

(a) Each owner shall provide for each of his or her animals:

(1) a sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food and water; (2) adequate shelter and protection from the weather; (3) veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering; (4) humane care and treatment.

(b) To lawfully tether a dog outdoors, an owner must ensure that the dog:

(1) does not suffer from a condition that is known by that person, to be exacerbated by tethering; (2) is tethered in a manner that will prevent it from becoming entangled with other tethered dogs;  (3) is not tethered with a lead that (i) exceeds one–eighth of the dog’s body weight or (ii) is a tow chain or a log chain; (4) is tethered with a lead that measures, when rounded to the nearest whole foot, at least 10 feet in length; (5) is tethered with a properly fitting harness or collar other than the lead or a pinch, prong, or choke–type collar; and (6) is not tethered in a manner that will allow it to reach within the property of another person, a public walkway, or a road.

(c) Subsection (b) of this Section shall not be construed to prohibit:

(1) a person from walking a dog with a hand–held leash; (2) conduct that is directly related to the cultivating of agricultural products, including shepherding or herding cattle or livestock, if the restraint is reasonably necessary for the safety of the dog; (3) the tethering of a dog while at an organized and lawful animal function, such as hunting, obedience training, performance and conformance events, or law enforcement training, or while in the pursuit of working or competing in those endeavors; or (4) a dog restrained in compliance with the requirements of a camping or recreational area as defined by a federal, State, or local authority or jurisdiction.

(Source: P.A. 98-101, eff. 1-1-14.)

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