Please make Pet Grooming In Melbourne/Victoria Essential in lockdown for Animal Welfare
Please make Pet Grooming In Melbourne/Victoria Essential in lockdown for Animal Welfare
Currently in Victoria and Melbourne Metro, Pet Grooming is not allowed by the Victorian Government as we are not permitted workers.
We are deeply concerned particularly in the event that this lockdown in extended for the welfare of pet dogs, cats and their owners.
I apologise for the alarming images but people need to see the reality. Some of these dogs belong to elderly people (90 year olds) who always send their dog’s to be groomed. Others people had appointments cancelled repeatedly due to lockdown. Any groomer will support how hard these coats are to maintain in normal times.
Frequent lockdowns are seriously impacting on the health and welfare of pets.
There are over 80k domestic dogs alone in metro Melbourne and less than 1k pet groomers.
Typically, groomers service 5 to 6 dogs requiring coat maintenance or haircuts per day on average.
With over 200 days in lockdown, and three recent lockdowns with minimum time in between, groomers already had a backlog of clients requiring services who have been rescheduled since March and have been unable to get appointments. Even when we are allowed to reopen, it will lead to many businesses being overwhelmed and unable to accommodate animals for more than 4 to 6 months.
With every day of lockdown, the number of animals requiring welfare increases.
Currently on the Victorian restrictions it states we are required to close. A question on the coronavirus.vic.gov.au page FAQ’s asks:
“Can pet groomers operate in metropolitan Melbourne? “
Answer “Pet grooming services are not permitted to operate, except where a failure to provide these services would create an animal welfare issue for the pet and no other options for resolving that welfare issue are available. “
An amendment was made allowing Pet Retail Stores to provide Welfare Grooming Services. As it is now spring, dogs coats are affected by warmer weather and longer daylight. This is resulting in severe matting.
Groomers are inundated with requests for help.
Accordingly, pet grooming services are only permitted in circumstances where pet welfare is an issue. The provision of pet grooming services for any other reason is not permitted.
This leaves our industry open to being fined anything from 10 k to 100 k or arrested if we provide even welfare grooming as the current wording of restrictions is open to interpretation. We are not permitted to work. Yet we can if there is animal welfare issue.
Our industry has advised the government for over 18 months how we operate and maintains that we can operate in a Covid Safe and Contactless Manner. We can use gates, pens or crates for owners to transfer animals to, or pass from a car just as is happening at veterinary clinics.
We have covid safe plans and have offered to conduct an industry program to ensure all who operate are provided with a permit after careful screening, that they understand how to operate in a covid safe contactless manner.
Forcing owners to neglect their pets breaches the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. It also contravenes Animal welfare law in Australia.
Lockdown rules preventing owners seeking care for their pets, is significantly contributing to emotional distress to entire families who consider their pets as a member of their family.
Pets are sometimes substitutes to those who cannot have children. They are an extremely valuable and loved members of households.
It is scientifically proven that pets contribute to good mental health and are often the only source of companionship. Given the current lockdowns and restrictions, pets are important in making people get up and participate in life.
We understand in a state of emergency that Animal Welfare law isn’t applicable. We say that we still have an ethical and moral obligation, not only to the pets we love but to their owners, who are already experiencing a very challenging time in respect to their mental health. Forcing owners to neglect animals is indeed cruelty and not only goes against the POCTAA and Animal Welfare Acts and Codes of Practice, it is an act f cruelty to people.
We are concerned as we already have a backlog of months of work due to frequent lockdowns. Some animals have had appointments cancelled and rescheduled since March. Many in our industry are often booked 4 to 12 months in advance, so there will be little chance of them rebooking all the cancellations back in.
The Dog and Cat Grooming Industry in Australia and the Pet Owners of Australia respectfully demand that you review the position of the Victorian Government on the provision of grooming services for pets as an essential service. We ask that we be added as a conditionally permitted essential service provider as a matter of urgency.
How do we as an industry define what is welfare in relation to grooming?
Listed here are welfare and health conditions we look after, prevent, and identify or that are caused by a lack of grooming.
We insist our services are vital to prevent Pain, Discomfort and Disease.
We should not have to wait until an animal is suffering!
It is our position that the prevention of matting is essential to the welfare of animals. We are currently forced due to the restrictions, to wait until an animal is in pain, discomfort or distress.
The rise in popularity of poodle x breeds has seen an enormous increase in the demand for services in our industry. Poodle x breeds commonly known by designer names such as Cavoodle, Moodle, Groodle, Labradoodle and Spoodle etc. Additionally, many pure breed dogs, such as poodles, double coated breeds such as Samoyed, Malamute, Rough Collie, Spitz breeds, Terriers, Drop coat breeds like Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu and Maltese all require, regular coat maintenance to prevent matting.
During winter these breeds coats grow faster due to colder temperatures. Once temperatures increase and I note we are now entering spring, these breeds start to shed winter their coat.
If these coats are not maintained the coat splits and attaches like Velcro to the rest of the coat. Previous coat damage, genetics, diet, breed, and other contributing factors often result in professional groomers, even with our equipment and training struggling to remove matting.
The result is we often must shave these coats very carefully and closely. This can be difficult on a moving animal that is already experiencing pain.
Pet owners often find this process extremely challenging, and it can result in injuries to the pet and owner. Elderly and disabled owners in particular struggle with trying to look after pets in this condition.
Veterinarians are extremely busy performing consultations and surgery, while they receive a few hours in grooming during their studies, very few have knowledge of anything other than a close surgical shave. The blades used are entirely different and if used all over, can result in serious rashes and abrasions to a pet’s skin. Vets do not have time nor are they set up sufficiently to perform grooming. Additionally most Vets cannot meet the demand for grooming. I note some practices have grooming facilities but not the majority. I’m quite certain most veterinarians will support this.
Some issues for an animal that is severely matted include but are not limited to are:
•Tight Matting can cause circulation loss to areas like ears, tails, limbs and cause extreme damage including haematoma and skin necrosis.
•Itchy skin from being dirty or matted.
•Bruising of skin
•Limited mobility. The tight matting pulls with each movement. We imagine it feels similar to when a person has a too tight ponytail or their hair salon s pulled except it is constant and she frenchs over the entire animal.
We see animals with limbs matted to their body.
•Blocked follicles causing inflammation
•Temperature/ environment and thermoregulation. There’s is scientific evidence to support animals’ coats help them to thermoregulate. Matted coats impede this natural process.
Wet coats that are pelted are heavy and uncomfortable and can lead to skin infections & hot spots.
Depression – animals do get depressed, and they react to owners responses to them. When owners look at them distressed or disgusted the animals do not understand and this impacts on their mental well-being and behaviour.
•Pain caused by tight matt’s pulling from the skin.
•Overgrown and matted pads contribute to skin infections as well as injuries when animals slip and fall.
•Removal of severe matting causes pain and distress as well as potential to cut animals as it is difficult to see the skin and it pulls up into the hair.
•Matted coats often hide underlying health issues from grass seeds, tumours, skin conditions and infections.
•The matted coat contributes to disease and injury.
2. Skin Care
Many animals require regular bathing to treat and manage skin conditions. Not all owners are capable or have facilities to adequately, safely, and humanely wash and dry pets.
There may be environmental reasons such as bathroom set up, behaviour issues physical ability or disability, confidence with handling. Again, this is not something that can effectively be done at a vet clinic, as they generally do not have bathing and drying facilities.
Some issues that can occur, without regular use of medicated shampoos in animals includes but is not limited to are:
•Allergy relief. Regular washing removes pollen, allergens, and dander. This also impacts humans with allergies.
Animals require regular grooming to clean, trim and prevent build up of excrement.
Faecal matter often builds up around the anus and can prevent animals from toileting.
This also impacts on the wellbeing of owners who reside with domestic animals in their home.
Anal glands often require expression, and we often detect health issues such as anal gland abscesses.
Build up of hair particularly when matted can prevent animal urinating and cause infections.
Build up of discharge from the penis or vulva, resulting in skin infections and odours.
Animals left with faecal matter can end up with fly blow (similar to what happens to sheep).
4. Ears, Eyes, Nails and teeth
Groomers regularly remove excess hair from ears. Severe matting of ears can cause haematoma and extreme pain. Groomers clean ears to prevent and provide treatment remedies prescribed for bacterial, fungal, and microbial conditions. Not all owners are capable due to ability, behaviour, and handling confidence.
While we are not vets we look after the outside of pets, there are tasks that we do to assist in the prevention of ongoing issues with pets’ ears:
Detect ear infection
Remove build-up of material in ears
Remove matting - particularly on ear tips which can cause severe issues if left
Groomers also remove build-up of discharge from eyes that can cause infection.
Detect potential disease such as dry eye, conjunctivitis, ingrown eyelashes anc oronasal fistula etc and we refer to vets frequently.
Pet owners often miss the things we detect.
Trimming Eye hair/fringe to enable dogs to see. We agree this could be tied back however many dogs won’t tolerate being banded.
Nails. We see many animals with overgrown nails that require regular trimming. Nails can overgrow to a point where they curl into pads causing open wounds and infection.
Teeth. Groomers detect dental issues and refer to vets. We do see matted hair caught around teeth from excessive chewing when animals are itchy or uncomfortable. Dental work is a veterinary area however we maintain that we refer countless animals to vets as owners do not detect issues in many instances.
Why can’t owners do all that we do themselves?
If it were that easy our industry wouldn’t be under so much pressure. we are trained professionally and for us matted costs pose a challenge. It takes skill and confidence to remove matted coat from a moving animal.
Owners on many occasions have accidentally injured animals while attempting to remove matting, resulting in animals requiring sutures and even surgery.
The animal may be difficult for the owner to groom due to behaviour, lack of training or health conditions that cause pain and fear.
The owner is not capable due to age, physical ability, confidence, living circumstances, and environment. Our industry is daily fielding thousands of calls from owners crying and distressed due to the condition their pets are in due to the constant lockdowns.
The dog is arthritic, elderly or has joint issues and deformity. Pain can cause animals to become very reactive. We have equipment and facilities with hydraulic tables and support equipment to assist us to support or restrain animals where required.
The owner is disabled or elderly.
Owner welfare - dogs are often peoples only companion or are family members. Neglecting them causes emotional distress.
Other dogs that need to be considered are:
Guide Dogs/Seeing eye dogs.
Medical support dogs.
Emotional assistance dogs (everyone at the moment)
Support dogs for autism. Smells are a sensory issue for people with autism.
The continued restraints on groomers not being able to trade in a covid safe manner will lead to serious issues for animal and human safety.
Regular grooming provides essential opportunities for the socialisation with grooming for puppies and given the restrictions, sometimes this is the only dog to dog interaction that these puppies receive and is vital for their ongoing sociability in the community.
Grooming assists with behaviour management and regular training.
Socialisation with grooming for rescue dogs.
Socially responsible pet ownership – ensuring your dog is groomed regularly makes you more responsible for its care and well-being.
Grooming is a vital part of the welfare of dogs and people - a clean pet is a happy pet. It has been proven that a well-groomed and maintained pet receives more attention than one that is left unkempt.
Our industry is deeply concerned that if the current lockdown is extended, then there will be a serious issue with the welfare of these pets and the groomers themselves. At the end of the big lockdown last year, many groomers were inundated with pets that were in terrible condition. This in turn left many groomers to suffer from depression and compassion fatigue as they were having to deal with seeing distraught pets and owners.
We have an obligation to look after the welfare of our most vulnerable, animals included. Therefore, we cordially request you review the decision and allow groomers to work in a contactless manner with strict conditions.
Pet grooming is essential to animal welfare. Please help us to get attention to this ongoing issue.
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