Video: Heathfield dog groomer achieves a first

Nicky Mills, 43, from Three Cups near Heathfield has become the first dog groomer in East Sussex to achieve the new Quality Assurance Standard for Groomers.

Designed to help cat and dog owners find a reputable groomer, the Quality Assurance Standard was launched by the Pet Industry Federation in 2013, in association with Dogs Trust and PDSA. Nicky Mills has now been officially awarded her certification.

Heathfield dog groomer Nicky Mills.

Heathfield dog groomer Nicky Mills.

Nicky has been dog grooming for about 20 years. She watched dogs being groomed and thought: ‘I could do that, I’m going to give it a go.’ But she knew a high degree of skill is involved so enrolled in a professional course at Brinsbury College, West Sussex.

She owns Miniature Schnauzers but is happy to groom all shapes and sizes of dogs and all breeds. She said: “Some of my clients own show dogs and some have pet dogs but they all deserve the best I can do.”

She swears by good grooming, saying it helps dogs cope with weather conditions and improves their general health. Far from being a cosmetic procedure, she points out long haired dogs can become distressed in hot weather. Even in the winter the coats of country-loving dogs can become painfully clotted with mud and tangled.

Quality Assured Groomers have to pass a rigorous inspection and testing process to ensure their knowledge, health and safety procedures, business practices and animal welfare policies are up to scratch. Participating businesses are also given a star rating, which is based on the qualifications and experience of the staff.

“Grooming is unregulated, which means that anyone can set up in business, no matter what their qualifications or experience.” said Nigel Baker, chief executive of the Pet Industry Federation.

“Sadly, there have been incidents of injuries to animals – or worse – in grooming salons. Whilst these incidents are few and far between, the general public may not know where to turn to find a groomer they can trust. Specialists from national charities Dogs Trust and PDSA and the British Dog Grooming Association have launched this scheme to provide peace of mind. Quality Assured Groomers have demonstrated that they operate to best practice guidelines and put animal welfare first.”

“We are delighted Nicky has had the courage and enthusiasm to take on the challenge of achieving the Quality Assurance Standard. “Our inspectors were impressed with the salon and, due to the qualifications of their staff, Nicky receives the top star rating. I am sure this will be of particular interest to pet owners in the Wealden area.”