By Khris Berry
As I write this month’s edition, the entire world is focused on a tiny little organism which has basically stopped the modern world in its tracks. The Novel Coronavirus, which has descended upon the world, has touched every individual you know in a personal way.
Whether it has changed your ability to shop freely or dine out, closed your grooming business temporarily in the interest of public safety, or affected the health and well–being of a friend or family member, no one can escape its grasp in some manner. We have collectively turned a corner as a species—we will never look at a simple germ as simple any longer.
As dog groomers, we are accustomed to working around and eliminating germs in our environments. What dog groomer hasn’t faced an unseen, unknown enemy when bathing a suspicious hotspot? What groomer hasn’t handled pets (or other matter, for that matter) which would make the germ–o–phobic person cringe? As we fight our collective way back to work and back to normal, it will be critical that we do not return to normal when it comes to how, when and why we sanitize our salons, ourselves and our work areas.
We had a brief wake–up call in the past few years as the “Dog Flu” (Canine Influenza) tried to grasp some of our regions and affected the pets we service. We attended emergency veterinarian symposiums, we talked about sanitation protocol, and we cleaned a little more often and a little more deeply. We had an introduction to infectious transmission and the role we played in mitigating a virus. But nothing prepared us as an industry (or a nation) for COVID–19.
We collectively learned everything we could about this microscopic foe; we took to the internet to learn how to kill it, how to repel it and, ultimately, how to survive it. And we are still learning more each and every day. But nothing in our lifetimes (or collective human memory) prepared us for a Novel Coronavirus. We were, and possibly still are, defenseless. And to protect ourselves and those around us, we were mandated to stay home and protect our communities.
But as we move through the process of staying healthy at home, the reality that we cannot stay at home forever is upon us. We must open our doors, our businesses and begin servicing the pets we are dedicated to once again. As we do that and begin to resume operations, I believe that we will find new “best practices” when it comes to providing sanitary conditions—for the pets, the clients and our co–workers.
Let’s look at some of the CDC recommendations and discuss how you can implement new sanitation procedures in and around your salon.
Space: Wide open space between yourself and co–workers can become a new normal. If you have the ability, spread out and place six feet between your grooming station and those around you.
Products: Keeping appropriate, effective virus and bacteria–eliminating cleaning products on–hand at all times (and using them correctly) should be part of your new normal. As should having a nice, moderate storage cabinet of paper products, just in case. Now is also not the time to embrace organic cleaning products—bleach is your friend, after all.
Process: Clean as you go instead of waiting until the end of the day. Many of us have a regular routine of deep cleaning at the end of our workday; scheduling or finding time to clean as you go will make it easier to find time to clean deeper and more thoroughly.
Sick days: Asking clients, co–workers and yourself to reschedule when anyone is sick or not feeling well should be a policy not to be overlooked. Groomers work sick. Groomers don’t take sick days. Groomers get through it. All of those are archaic mantras that we can eliminate. Require people to keep their germs at home. Make staying home when you are sick a new social responsibility.
Germs travel: Wipe down your surfaces more often. Wash your hands more often. Learn where germs live (basically everywhere) and sanitize every surface you can as often as you can. Want your grooming salon to smell clean for clients as they arrive? This one will ensure that it does.
Leashes and collars: This is a public service reminder that anything your client has touched, will be yours for the keeping. We plan to utilize slip leads in the future and not warehouse client leashes, collars, harnesses or personal property.
Masks: Groomers have a lot of reasons to wear masks when they are working. COVID–19 is just one more great reason to protect yourself and those around you.
I hope you are reading this in a working salon. If you are not, I hope you will be returning to grooming soon. Groomers are good at eliminating germs; by design, we have to be, in order to ensure success in our career and the health of our animal clients.
Let’s gather around new protocols and find ways to stay healthy, keep working and keep our sanity during these uncertain times. ✂️