Northampton dog groomer backs campaign to make first aid courses mandatory for pet professionals
'All of a sudden he just hunched over, he was standing still but I could see that he was struggling. I could see that he wasn't breathing'
A Northampton dog groomer is backing a nationwide campaign to get make first aid qualifications for pet professionals mandatory.
Currently the likes of dog walkers, dog groomers and pet sitters do not have to carry an animal first aid certificate, leaving them and the pets they care for vulnerable.
The Safe Pets and People campaign's aim is to highlight the fact that currently, people caring for your pet in a professional capacity do not have to hold a first aid qualification, and urge the government to make the courses mandatory.
Endorsed by the RSPCA, The Groomers Spotlight and Street Paws, the campaign is led by national qualification provider the iPET Network, which has launched a training payback scheme to help people make their businesses safer.
RSPCA head vet Jocelyn Toner said: “We advise that all professional dog walkers should have first aid training and we’d be supportive of any campaign to roll this out to include all individuals who work within the pet industry.
“Simple first aid skills could save a pet’s life or ensure an animal receives immediate care before they’re able to see a vet and we think it’s a wonderful idea that the Safe Pets and People Campaign wants all pet professionals - from groomers to breeders - to have basic first aid training.”
Helen Storer is a dog groomer and runs Jango's grooming parlour in Northampton.
She did a dog first aid course with qualified veterinary nurse Rachel Bean, which was soon put to the test when her beloved cockapoo Jasper, 12, began to choke.
Helen said: "We were at home and Jasper was chewing on a rawhide chew as he did every evening.
"All of a sudden he just hunched over, he was standing still but I could see that he was struggling.
"I could see that he wasn't breathing, I tried to put my hand in his mouth but he got distressed, I kept thinking of Rachel's training, and what she says 'doing something is better than doing nothing'.
"So I kept trying, and tried the abdominal techniques that we were taught too, my husband Paul was on the phone to the vet but Jasper was losing consciousness.
"By the time we were in the car though the first aid had helped to dislodge the chew and get air into his lungs again, the chew went down into his stomach."
Jasper had to stay overnight at the vet following his ordeal but is now fighting fit.
Helen credits the dog first aid training with saving his life.
She added: "The training has been invaluable and I have the knowledge to use at work too, particularly when we get elderly dogs who may become unwell while they are having a groom.
"I think it gives my clients faith in me, and it definitely gives me faith in myself and the confidence to step in when things go wrong."
There are many competent pet first aid courses out there, and campaigners say that it doesn't matter which course learners choose, as long as they get the knowledge they need to act quickly in an emergency.
Sarah Mackay and Fern Gresty of iPET Network, said: "We have worked as pet professionals for a long time, and regulation is an issue which constantly comes up.
"In the broader sense, this is the reason why we started iPET Network, which offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for dog groomers and other pet professionals.
"First aid is not an expensive course, and it doesn't have to be an iPET Network course that you do, we are not saying that and this isn't about selling our courses or making money.
"We are doing this because time and again we hear stories from our industries where something should have been done sooner, which really isn't good enough when people place their pets in your care.
"We think that people will be surprised to learn that pet professionals don't currently have to have first aid training, and we are so pleased that organisations like the RSPCA are getting behind us."
They added: "First aid training doesn't have to just be for pet professionals too. All dog owners would benefit from the confidence boosting knowledge that knowing what to do in an emergency gives."
Rachel Bean RVN and canine first aid course creator: "When we send our dogs to visit a professional, we are putting our trust in the staff that work there.
"Businesses are risking damage to their reputations, injuries and unwanted pressure by not stepping up, and leveling up their skills.
"I am so excited that the Safe Pets and People campaign is making this stand and campaigning for change. And I hope that others will join me in supporting this brilliant cause."