Mass. Pet Groomers Deemed Unessential During Pandemic

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Caught in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is man's best friend.

Under Gov. Charlie Baker's essential services order, doggie daycare is still allowed in Massachusetts, but grooming is not.

"We're getting calls every day of dogs who are in desperate need," said TLC Pet Haven owner Denise Jones.

"It's really important for the overall health of the dog, so his nails aren't getting caught on things and his fur isn't getting matted and he can see," said Liz O'Neil of Millbury.

O'Neil's 1-year-old Goldendoodle Finn is normally groomed at TLC Pet Haven in Sutton every six weeks, while Mary Eldridge's 13-year-old Shih Tzu Zoey gets a visit from TLC's mobile grooming van every five weeks.

"She has arthritis and things, so I've noticed her nails have grown and she's slipping and sliding all over the floor," said Eldridge.

Denise Jones, who has owned and operated TLC with her husband Bill for more than 40 years, says she initially thought grooming was an essential business under the governor's order because it included "the care of pets."

"So we continued grooming, and the second day after the order, we got a phone call from the Board of Health," Jones said.

Sutton's Board of Health tells NBC10 Boston they reached out to the state after complaints and were told grooming is not essential – and the Department of Public Health confirmed that.

But we've seen evidence of multiple groomers continuing to groom pets as recently as yesterday.

"We have heard of a couple other grooming vans that have been working," Jones said. "I know one specifically that, I was told that their Board of Health said they could."

It's something dog breeder Calli Prendergast hopes the state amends – especially since mobile grooming vans inherently avoid human-to-human contact.

"I think it should be consistent statewide, at a minimum," Prendergast said.

The state says it's the responsibility of local boards of health to enforce the guidance – while our pets are stuck in the middle.

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