Pet Groomers: What should pet owners look out for?

Paw Spa Grooming Salon is located in Meridian near Cherry and Meridian roads.

It's a big day for Déjà Vu anytime she visits Paw Spa Grooming Salon.

The 3-year-old Standard Poodle's been coming to salon owner Samantha Ferree since she was a 10-week-old puppy.

"We love to start puppies, because we get them started right - we get them coming in young and they realize it's no big deal," Ferree said.

Déjà Vu's owner Lora Allen brings all of her pets to the salon because she wants the best for her fur babies.

"Do the research," Allen said. "I have found on groomers that word-of-mouth is a lot more effective for me than just looking at a pretty ad in the paper. You want to look at the work they've done before and after."

Ferree has been running the Meridian salon for five years and all of the groomers have at least eight years of experience.

"You want to find a groomer that has a good understanding of handling the dog," she said. "Like Ellie - she has a background in dog training."

Déjà Vu is kept secure during her three-hour appointment because there's a lot of wiggle room between nail clipping, filing, and a good haircut.

"We do like to keep them looped on, to keep them from going over the edge," Ferree said.

When it comes to dog grooming, there is no single regulating agency nationwide. So in Idaho, if you're looking for someone to clip toenails or trim fur, your best bet is to look for training in organizations like the National Dog Groomers Association - but that's not all.

"All of us here are apprenticed to what we do," Ferree said.

But she cautions that pet owners should research deeper.

"Just because you're certified, doesn't mean you're good," she said.

Just ask the owner of 9-year-old Shih Tzu Howie.

"We've had experiences where, with past dogs, when they've shaved them too close and end up cutting them or cutting the quick of their nails too short," said Heather Evans.

Pet injury and death statistics at groomers aren't widely published, but horror stories exist - from dogs killed falling off tables or being baked to death under dryers.

"There is enough heat generated from just the dryer motors that there's no reason to have further heat," said DuAnn Chambers, author of "Poop Happens" and owner of Pooch Parlor Pet Grooming Academy in Ponderay.

Her academy is registered and bonded through the state board of education, and she supports training, but worries developing industry-wide regulations could be tough.

"If it came into effect, that mandatory training had come into play, then everyone would have to figure out OK - is hands-on training OK, is online training OK, is PetCo training OK - you'd have to decide which organization is best for this project," she said.

Ferree agrees and fears training costs would ultimately get passed on to customers.

"I've put a lot of thought into it, and I know for me, it would be more of a burden. And I'd probably have to raise prices," she said.

Ferree says your pet's best bet - go with your gut instinct.

"You know, you want to find someone who loves their job and is proud of what they do," she said.

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