Money Watchers: Proposed bill would license pet groomers

Mario Difande owns Four Paws, a pet grooming store in North Providence.

But the idea of a proposed new law that would require all pet groomers in the state to pay an annual fee of $100 to be licensed, does not appeal to him.

"I think it's pretty unfair because it's grouped in with many other issues which don't necessarily relate to grooming services. Grooming services is sort of like a hair stylist for a person and a hair dresser doesn't have to be governed by a law for say, child welfare, if they're cutting a child's hair. The whole thing just doesn't make sense," Difande said.

For pet stores which are already licensed, they would not have to pay another $100 licensing fee for pet grooming services. The fee would apply to shops that aren't licensed and just groom.

Difande said if they state is looking for more revenue, pet groomers aren't the place.

"The grooming community, the grooming salon business in the state, is very minuscule. It's a very, very small amount of money that they would make on licensing and taxing these services," he said.

However, the state representative behind the bill said it's not about money, but animal safety.

"We need this because the whole purpose and intent behind it is to protect animals and we need this so that people who call themselves groomers have some kind of license so the state can monitor who they are and we can take action if they abuse animals," said state Rep. Joe Shekarchi, D-Warwick.

If passed, the Department of Environmental Management would handle the licensing.

Shekarchi said the proposed bill does not strap small business owners that just groom.

"If they're licenses already it doesn't affect them. If they're not licensed it's a $100 fee, but I've also proposed legislation that repeals the 7 percent sales tax on all licensed and unlicensed groomers as well," he said.

Repealing the sales tax on pet grooming is welcome news to Difrande, but he still doesn't think his shop needs to be licensed.

He said his shop is not like a kennel, where pets are left alone or for long periods of time.

"It's silly. It can be devastating to be businesses. A lot of them are already suffering from the economy," Difrande said.