Highland pets welcome reopening of groomers

·2 min read

Pet groomers are welcoming the province allowing them to reopen Feb. 4 after weeks of being shuttered due to the provincial lockdown.

The province is allowing them to provide appointment-only, curbside-style service for pets in need of care for issues that would cause an imminent vet appointment. Groomers were closed after not being considered essential in the latest lockdown, which began Dec. 26.

Prettypaws Pet Boutique and Spa in Dysart is one of the businesses reopening. Owner Christopher O’Mara welcomed the news.

“Grooming is completely essential to the health and welfare of animals,” O’Mara said. “Being forced to close has put our clients at heightened risk of preventable issues. Allowing groomers to reopen will alleviate the stress of grooming appointments on vet offices.”

The provincial move came after mounting pressure from groomers and municipalities alike. Some larger municipalities such as Mississauga had announced they would not send bylaw officers to ticket groomers. Dysart et al did not follow suit, which O’Mara disagreed with.

“They are unmoving in their interpretation of the regulations despite the overwhelming response to the contrary from other municipalities,” O’Mara said. “Dysart is not a friendly community for small businesses.”

Dysart municipal law enforcement officer, Robert Mascia, said the emergency operations centre reviewed it, but the municipality opted not to go against provincial rules.

“We just followed the rules that the province had put out,” Mascia said. “It’s good to see the local businesses will be allowed to open up.”

O’Mara said the salon has worked curbside since May when it could reopen. He said there is no operational difference now compared to then, other than screening dogs for issues that would cause a vet appointment.

He said although he disagrees with the “essential” terminology, grooming is necessary. He added the business has safety measures with enhanced cleaning and screening.

“We are doing everything that every other business that has been allowed to open curbside is doing,” O’Mara said. “If not more.”

He said he has experienced a loss of approximately $34,000 in cancelled bookings with lockdown rules – and the provincial support is not enough. The province created a grant starting at $10,000, going up to $20,000, to help small businesses experiencing lost revenue due to the shutdown.

“Does not even come close to covering our losses,” O’Mara said. “2020 and 2021 are going to be very difficult years for us financially."

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander