Ask before you need to know

For many people their fur babies are as important as real babies to them. It’s no secret that people love their pets and form deep, meaningful bonds with their animals. Pets can now be treated to outfits, doggy restaurants and all manner of luxurious treats. Without even going to these extremes though, dogs need to be looked after and groomed. With our busy lifestyles and the convenience of doggie parlours and mobile pet grooming services, many people are opting to avoid Saturday morning doggie baths in the garden and are rather utilise the array of grooming services offered.

So what happens when you entrust the grooming of your puppy to a parlour and the process results in the injury or wounding of your beloved companion? Very recently our editor, Megan McLean sent her two poodles to be groomed at a local doggie parlour that she has used before. When she went to collect her fur babies, she was told that one of them had moved when his coat was being trimmed with scissors and this resulted in an injury. The parlour apologised and gave her a discount on the service and provided her with some ointment to treat the wound. After taking to social media she discovered that this is not as uncommon as one would hope.

The question our readers have asked is whether the parlour is liable for any resultant vet bills that arise from an injury sustained by an animal whilst in the parlour’s care? The simple answer is that if the parlour was negligent then they are liable to pay for the vet bills. Animals don’t have independent legal status in South African law so the law considers them to be an individual’s property. Legal action may be instituted for damage to property if an animal is harmed whilst in the care of a person or company that has a legal duty of care for the animal. The costs, ie vet bills associated with returning the animal to the condition it was in when it was entrusted to the parlour must be borne by the party responsible for the damage.

Fortunately, in McLean’s poodle’s case the parlour agreed to pay for the veterinary costs and her puppy has been properly treated and is at home recuperating.

To protect yourself and your furry companions, always check what the parlour’s policy is when you take them to be groomed, don’t sign any waiver of liability and ask whether they contract with a particular vet to deal with any emergencies.

Forewarned is forearmed, so always ask the questions before you need to know the answers.

Megan McLean
Group Editor

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