Coronavirus: Greene County dog grooming business sues Public Health

GroomingDales, a dog grooming business in Beavercreek, is suing Greene County Public Health about COVID-19 restrictions. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

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GroomingDales, a dog grooming business in Beavercreek, is suing Greene County Public Health about COVID-19 restrictions. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

A Greene County dog grooming business has filed a lawsuit against the county health department, arguing that it is an essential business and should be allowed to continue to groom pets.

Amy Howard, owner of GroomingDales Pet Salon and Day Spa in Beavercreek, filed the suit against Greene County Public Health, saying that her establishment and the services it provides fall under the exemption allowing for businesses that provide pet healthcare, food, shelter and kennels to remain open.

The lawsuit says the Greene County business provides numerous services to keep pets healthy including coat examination, bathing, hair clipping, ear cleaning to prevent infections and discomfort, identification and treatment of fleas, ticks and ear mites, nail clipping to avoid splayed feet and injured tendons, oral examinations and teeth brushing.

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“I don’t know how you would argue that treating fleas, ticks and mites are not part of animal healthcare,” one of Howard’s attorneys, James Hill, told the Dayton Daily News.

Howard isn’t the first pet groomer to question the ruling of a health department. The Ohio Stay At Home Order Dispute Resolution Commission, created by the Ohio Health Department to resolve cases where two county health departments ruled differently, ruled on April 8 that pet groomers are not essential businesses.

A Greene County Public Health spokeswoman and Greene County Assistant Prosecutor Anu Sharma declined to comment for this article.

Hill said that the lawyers are aware of the commission’s ruling and still contend that GroomingDales is an essential business under the Stay at Home Order.

Hill said that Howard’s business was taking precautions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the business implemented protocols that allowed customers to drop off their pets without any contact with employees.

He said customers were asked to pay over the phone and then asked to cage their animal inside the business and leave. Then an employee, wearing a smock and mask, retrieved the animal and provided the services the customer had paid for. He said the business was also making their employees follow proper social distancing protocols.

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But according to the lawsuit filed in Greene County Common Pleas Court, that all changed on April 7 when the health department served them an order to cease operations. The lawsuit quotes part of the order:

“Part of your business is classified as non-essential business. Specifically, the grooming portion of your business is not included in the list of essential business definitions…” the lawsuit says. The cease order further states that the plaintiff was required to ‘immediately cease the pet grooming operations under the amended order until further notice.”

Hill said he hoped that the lawyers would be able to come up with a compromise that would allow Howard’s business to continue operating. He said the business won’t be able to sustain being closed much longer.

“The owner Amy Howard is at the end of her rope. She has already lost one business, and she is going to lose this business if she doesn’t get to reopen immediately,” Hill said, adding that Howard also owned a bar that was forced to close.

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