Dog groomers united in animal welfare concerns

Broadford dog groomer Danielle Chisholm and her dog Possum.

By Steph McNicol

WHITTLESEA Hairy Cherubs dog grooming salon owner Trish Wileman says she is worried for the welfare of people’s pets as metropolitan Melbourne groomers are unable to open under current COVID-19 restrictions.

Metropolitan groomers working from a fixed location remain closed under step one of the state’s roadmap to recovery but will be able to open on September 28, while mobile groomers will still be closed until step three in October.

In regional Victoria, pet groomers, working from a fixed location and mobile groomers, can operate but may not travel into metropolitan areas.

Ms Wileman said the closure had caused anxiety and stress for pet owners who were unable to get their dogs groomed.

“The first wave of the virus outbreak it was undecided what was happening with businesses and there was a lot of scare right at the start,” she said.

“We wanted clearer direction from the government. Obviously, we introduced COVID-safe practises and slowed the regularly grooming down.

“We fell into a pretty safe pattern and put more measures in place for our customers, like social distancing in the salon and specific requirements for dropping dogs off.”

Ms Wileman said the stage four lockdown sent her salon into lockdown and meant she had no income for six weeks.

“We had to reject so many clients’ calls and it was concerning because there was no real warning, nor was there any for the virus,” she said.

“Dogs that were due to come in had waited about five to eight weeks for grooming and owners had to look at their regular grooming being closed for six weeks or more.

“It caused a lot of stress and anxiety and I worried for the welfare of the dogs. I understand the government had to be cautious, but we had minimal human contact in place.”

At Pawfect Pinups in Broadford, groomer Danielle Chisholm said restrictions on metropolitan Melbourne made it hard to ensure she received no visits from people living in step one.

Ms Chisholm operates her salon from home inside a renovated caravan, which she says is suited to grooming one dog at a time.

“Everything changed a little bit; with the way we have to deal with people in general now. Having the 1.5 metres, masks and all that stuff,” she said.

“The first time around was more daunting because we sort of had to wait and ask what happens next. This time around though it hasn’t been as hard, because we already implemented rules for the salon.

“No one else was allowed in the salon, we had handovers at the door – I guess it was just hard making sure no Melbourne people came up. But mostly, people were good at filling in their details, phone numbers and addresses.”