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Coronavirus: Montreal groomer, pet owners up in arms over province’s COVID-19 closures

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WATCH: Many businesses have been forced to temporarily close to curb the spread of COVID-19, since they're deemed non-essential by the Quebec government. But as Phil Carpenter reports, some argue that in the rush to close stores the needs of pets have been ignored. – Jan 13, 2021

Pet owners are taking the provincial government to task for, in their view, ignoring the needs of pets in its rush to temporarily close businesses deemed non-essential by the provincial government, in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On the government’s website, which outlines the list of services that authorities seen as a priority, animal grooming services are described as “covered by the closing of retail stores and personal and beauty care enterprises. Animal grooming services are not authorized during this period.”

Read more: Quebec imposes curfew, tightens lockdown restrictions as coronavirus health crisis deepens

But dog owners like Evan Hughes say they can’t understand why pet grooming services are not considered a priority service, but pet supply stores are.  He argues that pet grooming isn’t always about vanity, and worries about Teddy, his 15-year-old cocker spaniel.

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“If he’s not properly groomed he has more chance of getting an ear infection, skin irritations,” he told Global News outside his Westmount apartment.

Evelyn Couture, who owns Doghause, a pet supply store in NDG where pet grooming services are usually done, said certain dogs, especially ones with long coats like Teddy, need special care and can be dangerous if it’s not looked after.

For example, if the hair isn’t cut, it gets entangled and form mats attached to the skin, she said.

“That creates lesions, cuts, abrasion, infections,” she explained.

She added that if the nails trimmed that could cause serious problems for the animal.

“The dogs will have trouble walking on them, and some of them will curl up into their pads,” she pointed out.

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Cardboard cutout of 11-year-old boy issued $10,000 ‘ ticket’ for breaking curfew – Jan 12, 2021

Couture claimed that these were all problems she saw last spring at the onset of the pandemic when grooming services were also suspended.

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Brianna Bertone said some of those issues happened to Coco, her year-and-a-half old Miniature Poodle.

“Her skin started getting very infected and we shaved her,” she told Global News.  “We shaved her as far as we could go.  They couldn’t get to the mats.”

Read more: Stricter COVID-19 measures, curfew arrive as health experts warn Quebec hospitals stretched thin

Doghause manager Sarah Miller-Barrington also argues people who try to groom their own animals can cause more damage, saying proper grooming services can help prevent owners from paying for extra grooming sessions or worse.

“For vet bills,” she noted, “for infections or cuts or nicks or tangles or tears.”

Couture agrees.

“It’s just very frustrating for the owners because many of them went through this during the first lockdown,” she recalled.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation, responsible for deciding which businesses are essential, reiterated that animal grooming services are not authorized for the moment, but said “the Government of Quebec is aware of the challenges presented by the current situation.”

Pet owners and groomers say they hope provincial authorities change their minds, before the situation gets too hairy for pets.

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