The bill is named after a Yorkshire Terrier mix from Palm Desert, Calif., who had five nipples shaved off and suffered a detached retina and severed leg ligament during a visit to a groomer two years ago.
On Monday, the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development passed SB 969 by a vote of 5 to 3. The bill is now on its way to the Senate Rules Committee. If no further committee consideration is deemed necessary, it will move forward to the Assembly.
“With this certification program in place, owners can feel confident that they are leaving their pet in the hands of groomers that care to be trained at the highest standard available in California,” State Sen. Juan Vargas, who authored the bill, said in a press conference Monday, according to the Desert Sun.
Lucy’s Law would create a certification program for pet groomers. A nonprofit council, comprised of grooming and animal law experts, would oversee the program at no cost to the state.
According to SB 969, it would be “an unfair business practice for any person engaged in pet grooming to advertise or hold himself or herself out as a registered, certified, or licensed pet groomer without being certified and regulated by the council.”
Recently, other dogs who suffered severe injuries – or worse – during grooming sessions have been in the news.
Earlier this month, the pet parents of Rita, an English Bulldog, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against PetSmart. According to the L.A. Weekly, they allege that store employees strangled Rita during a routine grooming visit and then cremated the dog without their permission.
In a lawsuit filed in Hawaii last February, employees at a Petco store are accused of partially severing the ear of Dodo, a Pomeranian-Maltese mix, and then trying to hide it by gluing it back on. Hawaii News Now reported yesterday that Petco has filed a legal response denying the charges and claiming Dodo’s ear was injured after she left the store.
Some groomers are opposed to Lucy’s Law. In a petition she started against it, Sue McFarlin, a groomer from Coalinga, Calif., writes, “State bureaucracy will not improve pet safety or grooming quality, but it will result in less competition, less choice for consumers and higher prices.”
In a comment on the petition, April Perry wrote, “As owner of a grooming business with a pristine safety record, I oppose SB 969 on the basis that it is unnecessary and costly. Word of mouth is the biggest advertisement for groomers and bad groomers simply go out of business.”
An earlier version of the bill would have required groomers to be licensed and included several regulations. The current version has dropped the regulations and requires groomers to be certified instead of licensed.
“This is to work with the groomers and not against them,” said Jacque Mercier, dog mom of Lucy, the Yorkie mix who inspired the bill, at the press conference Monday.
PHOTO: Trish Steel