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Over 500 complaints filed with Governor's office over Petco disregarding stay-home order

Petco representatives said the company considered grooming an essential service and put social distancing measures in place to ensure worker safety.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Petco will stop offering dog groomings during the stay-at-home order in Washington state after being on the receiving end of hundreds of complaints.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order forced the closure of businesses and services considered non-essential in March.

A Governor’s spokesperson said the order included dog groomers, but that was not so clear to Petco, according to a company spokesperson.

The Governor’s office received approximately 500 complaints about groomings being offered at Petco after the stay-at-home order.

The state sent the company a warning email in April and a cease and desist letter last week.

“Petco is endangering the lives of its customers and its communities in which it operates,” said the letter from the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

Petco agreed to stop the groomings after receiving that letter.

In written statements to KING 5 News and the state, Petco representatives said the company considered grooming an essential service and put social distancing measures in place to ensure worker safety.

The company claimed it asked for clarification on the order, but never heard back from the Governor’s office.

Investigators with the Attorney General’s Office said they believe Petco was aware of the ban on groomings and a Governor’s spokesperson said the prohibition on groomings was made clear.

In a written statement, a Petco spokesperson said:

Petco is the grocery store, the pharmacy and, in many cases, the doctor’s office for beloved pets. Our stores have been universally recognized as essential and we have remained open to serve pets and their families during this unimaginable challenge. Our top priority is protecting the health, safety and overall well-being of our own employees, as well as people and pets in the communities we serve, and we are working diligently to remain informed and in compliance with widely varying and quickly evolving local, state and federal guidelines. 

We wholeheartedly believe proper and routine grooming care and hygiene are essential to the health and wellness of pets. Where our grooming services remain open, we’ve made a number of operational changes to help ensure both our employees and our guests can maintain proper social distancing, including reduced hours, limited appointment times, a limited menu of essential services, designated pick-up times, and extended windows between appointments for cleaning and sanitizing. 

Before being contacted by the state attorney general’s office, we proactively contacted Washington state and local officials to seek clarification about whether grooming was covered under the governor’s proclamation language around “essential services.” Where county officials informed us they viewed grooming to not be an essential service, we immediately ceased operations in those locations. As soon as we received clarity and direction from the state Attorney General, we immediately suspended grooming services in all remaining Petco grooming locations. This continues to be a highly fluid situation and we are proud of our responsiveness to date.”

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