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Suffolk legislation requires pet groomers to register with county

Pet groomers in Suffolk will have to register with the county under a bill that lawmakers passed after receiving complaints from constituents about pets injured and killed during shampoos and clipping.

“Ginger’s Law,” named for a Medford woman’s Pomeranian injured in 2012 at a mobile groomer, will require pet grooming businesses to pay $100 every two years to the county. Groomers who go to people’s homes will pay $50 every two years.

The bill, sponsored by Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), passed 17-0 Wednesday night, although some Republican lawmakers complained about the county’s ability to enforce the law and the addition of another layer of regulation.

The law requires pets to have access to fresh water if confined for four hours or more. Pets also cannot be left unsupervised on a grooming table or in bathing areas, and cannot be left unattended in “box dryer” cages used to dry dogs.

Pet groomers will have to have 150 hours of apprenticeship or educational training.

Operating an unregistered pet grooming business will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year of imprisonment.

Other violations are punishable by fines of $500 to $1000 per offense.

Calarco introduced the bill after Laura Hughes of Medford, approached him. Hughes, 48, said she left her Pomeranians with a mobile groomer in July 2012. When she picked them up, Gizmo started throwing up and Ginger turned bright red. Hughes blamed a flea shampoo used on the dogs.

Ginger died in May 2015. Hughes said Ginger never fully recovered from the trip to the groomers.

“Hopefully we can save another family from a traumatic experience,” Hughes said.

County Executive Steve Bellone plans to sign the bill, a spokesman said.

Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), minority leader, said the county can’t afford to hire a $71,000-a-year inspector. “This will be another law that’s never enforced,” said McCaffrey.

The county’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs estimated there are 184 dog grooming businesses in Suffolk County. Calarco said he expected most inspections to be driven by complaints.

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