Make pet grooming an essential service

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Cyril Martinez
Cyril Martinez signed this petition

To whom it may concern:

The continued practice of strict Social Distancing is absolutely tantamount in this time. It is the most important thing that we as responsible citizens can do in efforts to flatten the curve and put the COVID-19 virus behind us. As these practices will be necessary to maintain for an extended length of time (months at the very least), it is important that we are proactive in caring and protecting the animals that are also part of our community. Grooming services are easily tailored to carefully adhere to Social Distancing guidelines, while continuing to provide essential and critical care to pets that both protects animals and maintains greater safety and health for humans as well.

There are several factors that clearly define pet grooming as an essential service: 

1. Both the CDC and the WHO have stated that there is no evidence that companion animals (dogs and cats) can transmit COVID-19. However, there are several diseases that CAN be life threatening to humans which can be transmitted by pets. Regular Grooming can not only prevent these diseases and/or eliminate the root causes, in some cases it may reveal a disease that would otherwise stay hidden until pets and/or their owners became endangered. As we are all confined to our homes, we are constantly around our pets and citizens need an option for their care.

2. Ringworm is among the aforementioned diseases. It is highly contagious to humans and nearly impossible for most pet owners to see or diagnose. Grooming can reveal this dangerous parasite so that pet owners can get the treatment needed for both animals and exposed family members alike.

3. Right now is the kickoff of flea season nationwide. Animals easily pick up fleas whenever they go outside. Fleas are extremely prolific and, in no time at all, can infest a home. Fleas transmit several diseases that are very dangerous to humans including typhus, tularemia, and the bubonic plague. Grooming is the first line of defense to eliminate these parasites and protect pets and people from the illnesses they spread.

4. Tick season is also upon us. Lyme disease is the most notable of the several life-threatening conditions spread by ticks to humans, and is known for being extremely challenging to diagnose and potentially accompanied by a lifetime of severe late-stage symptoms and complications. The only way to prevent this late-stage advancement of Lyme disease is to undergo treatment by visiting a doctor or emergency room very soon after being bitten. If the entire point of flattening the curve is to stave off overwhelming our healthcare system during this time, it is positively irresponsible to not consider and be proactive in reducing other risks that could require hospitalization. Grooming eliminates ticks safely from our animals and protects our community against the diseases they spread.

5. Matted long-haired cats with feces and/or urine in or on their coats can expose children and especially pregnant women to potentially life-threatening conditions like Toxic-Plasmodia.

6. Skunks are on the move this time of year. Skunk spray is a self-defense mechanism that can be very harmful. Pets who have been skunked, in many cases, become very sick and extremely uncomfortable. Proper grooming of skunked animals eliminates the danger of lasting health effects and makes life much more bearable for the families of these pets.

7. This is the beginning of coat-blowing and shedding season. Grooming provides immediate relief and eliminates shedding and matted coats. Shedding adversely affects any person with allergies or sensitivity to pet hair and dander - a situation that affects millions of pet owners nationwide. Without a way to mitigate their symptoms, humans who are badly impacted by shedding hair and dander can succumb to serious respiratory issues - potentially forcing pet owners to seek medical attention, either further overwhelming our hospitals, exposing themselves and their families unnecessarily to COVID-19, or likely both. Preventative grooming prevents this build-up of dander and allergens that can lead to more serious circumstances if neglected.

8. Severely matted fur (which is very common in long-haired cats and dogs) is not only unsanitary as it collects dirt, dust, and germs of all sorts as well as feces and other dried fluids, it is also extremely painful for the animal. Pets with severely matted coats can hide sores or infections that, if left untreated, could prove dangerous to these pets and in some cases to their families. Home washing of a matted pet will only make this matting worse. There is a real chance for hotspots and other sores to form if a matted pet is bathed at home by a pet owner and not professionally and completely brushed and dried using a high-powered pet dryer. Hot spots can lead to staph-infections and make a pet extremely uncomfortable. Grooming immediately and safely eliminates matting, and will quickly reveal any resulting health conditions.

9. Groomers are often the first line of defense for spotting significant and life-threatening health issues in animals such as hot spots, sores, tumors, bites, rashes, infections, and parasites that owners are not yet aware of. Groomers can safely care for service animals, emotional support pets, guide dogs, therapy dogs, seizure alert service pets and, of course, K-9 specialty animals.

10. Groomers are following news sources closely for updates about animal contraction and transmission of COVID-19 and how that information evolves. We are prepared to adjust practices and procedures consistently according to CDC guidelines and developments. Groomers are very aware of the ever-changing nature of the pandemic situation, and how viruses mutate by nature. The grooming industry is capable of continuously updating practices and standards to adhere to the most recent safety measures.

Grooming facilities are naturally primed to strictly limit person-to-person contact by allowing only one dog or family of dogs to enter shops at a time, and offering curb-side pickup and drop off. Groomers wearing masks and gloves during the grooming process significantly reduces the risk of COVID-19 being deposited on a pet’s coat. Groomers can take payment by phone or online, eliminating hand-to-hand transfer of currency.

Pet grooming is very much an essential service. Our community members are suffering and begging us to ‘sneak their pets in’ or secretly ‘come to their homes’ to provide these vital services. People are being forced to choose between caring for their animals and abiding by the law. If people cannot maintain their animals' hygiene when needed, that is not just inconvenient or unfortunate, it's neglectful. Allowing an animal's grooming needs to get to the point where they are emergent before being able to legally receive care is cruel. Animal cruelty, including negligence is considered a felony in New Mexico. If we wish to maintain our progressive stance with laws pertaining to animal rights, prioritizing their care in this way is the right thing to do. Being proactive now will help prevent dangerous situations down the road.

Please, please consider our request to reopen within stringent social distancing constraints in order to provide these very important and necessary services to the citizens of New Mexico and their pets.

Sincerely,
Every pet groomer and pet owner in New Mexico.