As if California didn't have enough laws and regulations, now the Legislature might regulate pet groomers.
Senate Bill 969 is by state Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego. Bathing Fido would be, as the bill's summary puts it, "licensed and regulated by the Veterinary Medical Board." So Rover's pedicurist would be treated like a veterinarian with a medical degree.
Violators of SB969 would be fined $500 to $2,000 and additional penalties could include 30 days to one year in jail.
The bill will not help pet groomers, pet owners or our furry friends. "Licensing pet groomers is not the answer to poor-quality grooming services," Adam B. Summers told us; he's a senior policy analyst at the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation and has written extensively on government licensing.
"Imposing a top-down state bureaucracy will likely not improve pet safety or grooming quality, but it will result in less competition, less choice for consumers, and higher prices," he said. "Higher prices will arise from the reduced competition and the need for practitioners to offset the cost of compliance with unnecessary regulations. When there is less competition, there is less pressure on practitioners to offer the best prices and service quality."
Basically, it's Economics 101: When supply drops, prices rise.
He said top-down regulations by the state government are "arbitrary." The regulations "give consumers a false sense of security about licensed groomers, causing them to be less cautious about whom they do business with than they otherwise might be." Moreover, higher prices would mean more pet owners would groom their own pets. This would lead to more pain for the pets because owners aren't as well trained as groomers.
Sen. Vargas dubbed SB969 "Lucy's Law," after a terrier-mix that was wounded by a groomer. Treatment, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune, "included an emergency room visit to a veterinarian and reimbursement negotiations with the groomer."
State law already allow for the reimbursement of damage to pets and to protect consumers from fraud and negligence. Mr. Summers said consumers also can appeal to the Better Business Bureau, while Yelp! and Angie's List online provide ratings of groomers by pet owners.
SB969 will be considered in the Legislature starting Feb. 17.