Love never dies. It seems like yesterday some days, and other days it feels like a lifetime ago that we lost our precious Yorkie, Harley. It happened on April 28, 2018, four years ago. Until legislation is passed regulating the grooming industry, or until I pass on into eternity, I will write my annual tribute to Harley.
It was a day like any other when I dropped Chardonnay and Harley off at the groomer. I hadn’t been home more than an hour and one-half when the groomer called to tell me Harley was gone. Gone? What did that mean? The groomer said Harley jumped off the grooming table and ran out an open door. The groomer ran after Harley, but Harley ran faster. The groomer then sent her husband to look for Harley on his motorcycle. Our Harley weighed around six pounds. Do the math. Indeed he found her and chased her through a stream and for a few blocks before losing sight of her. We searched for 5.5 hours. The next time I saw Harley, someone had laid her body on a boulevard with a purple knitted hat over her damaged head. One of my daughters and our closest friend found her. I can still hear the screams and sobs of my daughter as she knelt beside Harley’s body.
Why isn’t the grooming industry regulated? Why aren’t groomers required to be licensed? We need licenses for everything else. It would make sense to regulate and require licensing of a billion-dollar industry. On a purely monetary level, states would receive more revenue. From a pet owner’s standpoint, there are no guarantees our pets wouldn’t suffer at the hands of negligent groomers, but there would be penalties for careless groomers and compensation for pet owners. Of course, no amount of compensation would bring back a beloved pet, but as it stands in many states, the loss of a pet is a civil suit at best allowing only replacement value of the pet. Pets are considered property just like a car, microwave, or bicycle. That is a slap in the face to those who value and treat their pets like family.
Most pet owners aren’t aware that groomers are not licensed, nor that the industry isn’t regulated. The call for licensing and regulation of the grooming industry is gaining momentum, however. “Bijou’s Law – Pet Grooming Licensing Act, will require state licensure of all dog groomers and will regulate a buyer beware billion-dollar industry in the United States. Bijou’s Bill has passed overwhelmingly in the New Jersey State Assembly in October 2018 and is making its way through the New Jersey Senate.” (Copied from the WordPress site Protect Our Pets – please visit and sign the petition!) Rosemary Marchetto, the founder of the movement and Bijou’s Law lost her six-year-old Shih Tzu, Bijou, to a negligent groomer. I spoke with Rosemary after we lost Harley, and tried to gain support from our state to follow suit. No luck, so far.
Nothing will bring Harley or Bijou back. We, and hundreds of thousands like us, are left with memories – memories of the love and companionship our pets gave us, and memories of their tragic suffering and death. If one pet owner could be spared the grief of losing a pet to a careless and negligent groomer, some good would come from the loss of Harley and Bijou.
Cardinals appear when angels are near. Four years later, when we see a cardinal, we think of Harley. Every year, especially during the anniversary week of Harley’s passing, more cardinals than usual swoop into our backyard and sing from the trees. Their songs remind us that love never dies…..