Pet Boarding & Daycare

AKC Salon S.A.F.E. Certification Program

AKC Salon S.A.F.E. Certification Program

By Staff

“Should groomers be licensed?” is one of the most highly debated questions in the pet care industry right now. If you offer grooming services at your pet care facility, this is an issue that will impact your business.

Most groomers believe that there should be some way of separating them from a person who simply reads a book, watches a few YouTube videos and thinks they can be a groomer. Required state licensing would solve that problem but would create a whole new set of problems that involve government bureaucracy and interference. The AKC S.A.F.E Grooming Certification Program is an attempt to bridge this gap.

The first step in getting your pet care business AKC S.A.F.E Certified is for you and your grooming employees to take the AKC Safety in the Salon course online or at a professional pet care expo. This comprehensive class, created in partnership with Susan Divine Sholar, founder of the International College of Pet Careers, provides vital information on safety measures and protocols within the grooming facility.

“The AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification program covers a number of topics,” states Sholar. “One that is of the utmost importance is the humane handling of animals while keeping the groomer safe at the same time. There are times when un–socialized dogs enter our facility, and they take a different touch and a lot of patience. These are the ones that make us appreciate the well-socialized dogs we also see in our grooming areas. Keeping groomers safe is just as important as pet safety, so we cover how to avoid injuries and the downright dangerous situations they may encounter.”

Sholar added, “Groom safety for all who work and patronize the pet care facility is another consideration when reviewing how to make your business safe for humans and pets alike. Health issues can be present with any animal that comes in for grooming. Staff should be able to recognize whether there is a health issue present that needs to be referred to a veterinarian before you can accept the pet into your facility. If a dog has a health issue that a groomer will need to use special products on, it is important for them to know how to best handle the grooming so not to exacerbate the problem.”

The course goes through the diseases that are communicable among the pets in your facility, as well as zoonotic diseases, which can transfer to other species. It also details how to develop an emergency or disaster plan for your pet care business—and why training your staff on it is important and necessary.

“You should also know what your county or state requires of your facility’s grooming salon,” Sholar advises. “Regulations can vary from state to state, even city to city. Therefore, the course covers a number of issues you should be aware of and what government departments you will need to work with to obtain those regulations and ensure you are in compliance. We also discuss the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards.”

“This course is directed at groomers, salon owners, and pet care businesses that offer grooming; however, we recommend it to anyone working within a salon or pet care facility who will be handling animals or be making the decision about whether an animal can be accepted into a facility based on temperament or health issues. These employees could be bathers or receptionists,” Sholar states.

“Our goal is to avoid being the groomer on the news due to an avoidable injury to a pet. We do not want to see the pet injured as the name of the next animal legislation you see in your state. Most groomers are extremely dedicated to their profession and the pets in their care. They become attached to many of these pets and establish wonderful relationships with the pets’ owners. We hope to help the groomer maintain this connection while also providing them with the best safety practices with the AKC S.A.F.E. Grooming Certification Program,” Sholar concludes.

After speaking with Susan Sholar, we wanted to gather more first–hand information and experience from an AKC S.A.F.E Certified salon owner so we spoke to Jacki Panzik. Panzik was asked what the benefits of the certification are for grooming facility owners, and she responded with, “There are many, it gives our staff guidelines to follow for pet safety. They are more conscious of the fact that pets must be well taken care of and that safety is always our priority. We proudly hang our AKC S.A.F.E. Salon Certificate and point it out to new customers as well as regular customers. They are impressed by it as pretty much everyone recognizes the AKC as an authority when it comes to the care of the canine. Following the AKC guidelines has raised the level of safety and sanitation in our salons. It helps to create a culture of pride among our staff for standing out in our community as a reputable organization.”

The AKC S.A.F.E Grooming Certification Program has been a huge success so far and we are excited to spread the benefits and joy to other groomers and clients. Take a look at some of the rave reviews the program has already received:

“Should be mandatory for all groomers! Well done.”

“Everything before the exam was very easy to follow. I really enjoyed learning more and feeling confident in the process.”

“Very in–depth. Great examples. Insanely knowledgeable.”

“Very user–friendly and informative. This should be the standard for all groomers.”

“Wide coverage of safety risks. I liked the parts about diseases and how to deal with them. So much information. I love the handout so I could listen easier. Lots of great info in small amount of time.”

Pet care professionals who successfully complete the AKC Safety in the Salon course and pass the associated exam are eligible to apply to become AKC S.A.F.E. Certified Groomers and Salons. A pet boarding or dog daycare facility would sign-up for the S.A.F.E. Certified Salon program, which includes course access for their employee groomers. At the center of the AKC S.A.F.E Grooming Certification Program is the Groomer/Salon Oath. Pet care facility owners and groomers certify to follow the oath, which specifies their commitment to holding pet safety in the highest regard. Grooming professionals must also submit an application detailing their grooming experience and pledge to safety.

Approved AKC S.A.F.E. Certified Groomers and Salons receive a frameable certificate to display in their business, a complimentary one–year AKC GroomerFinder profile listing, and other valuable marketing materials from the American Kennel Club. Contact AKC Groomer Education at [email protected] to learn more. 

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