The government is working on a bill to regulate the profession of pet groomers after the traumatic death of a beloved family pet last month sparked calls to action.

In response to a parliamentary question by MP Mario Galea, Animal Rights Minister Anton Refalo said that a bill regulating groomers was being discussed internally.

“The government has been working to regulate this profession,” Refalo said in his reply.

“In fact, a bill on the regulation of the profession has been prepared by the Veterinary Surgeons Council and consultation with stakeholders is ongoing."

Groomers, among other pet-related professions like pet sitters and animal trainers, do not require a license to operate, with calls for their regulation coming after a nine-year-old Yorkshire terrier died suddenly after being picked up from the groomer.

Bolt, a beloved family pet, died in June after suffering a trachea injury which led to his respiratory system collapsing, his owner, Miguel Buttigieg said.

It later transpired that the groomer had used a cable grooming noose on Bolt, which most likely led to his injuries.

Described as a healthy and active dog before his death, Bolt’s sudden and unexpected loss has been heartbreaking for his owners.

“In just a matter of hours, the situation went from walking with a healthy dog to walking away with a lifeless body,” Buttigieg said.

“We lost our boy, not because of old age, nor a disease. We lost Bolt due to negligence.

“It was meant to be just another grooming session. We handed over Bolt full of life. So much so that the groomer told us they cannot believe he is almost nine years old.

“We picked up a wheezing dog, whom we rushed to emergency vet care where we discovered that our dog had suffered a trachea injury. This led to his respiratory system collapsing.”

Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina, who submitted a report to the ministry formally recommending the regularisation of pet groomers, sitters and trainers, said that while the process of introducing a licensing system may take years, her recommendation that groomers should be obliged to install CCTV pointing at their grooming tables is something that can be implemented swiftly.

“This is what would be most effective as a deterrent because you’re being watched. It will serve as peace of mind for owners and if something does happen, there’s something to turn to and help verify what actually happened,” she said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us