SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Pandemic pets were all the rage the past year, but all the new pups have meant a huge increase in demand for local groomers.
“I just started taking care of my dog about seven months ago,” Sioux Falls dog owner Julia Lam said.
Like many people, Julia Lam added a pet to her family during the pandemic.
“In the winter time with his long coat, I was like, oh we’ll just wait till the summer,” Lam said.
But once the weather warmed up, she and so many other new pet owners found the same problem.
“I’ve been trying to find a groomer for two months or so, everyone seems to be booked,” Lam said. “He definitely needs to be groomed but the wait lists have been extremely long and it’s just months out.”
“The whole summer is booked,” Dirty Dog Spa owner Toni Connors said. “It’s going to be months. If you called right now, I just have nothing to offer you.”
Dirty Dog Spa currently has a wait list of 112 dogs.
“It’s really just like a lottery, once that dog cancels or we run ahead, we’ll send a text message out to five people and the first one that calls back gets it,” Connors said.
This market saturation is something Dirty Dog Spa owner Toni Connors and many other area groomers are struggling with.
“People are like, ‘what am I supposed to do?’ And we want to help them all out, but it’s so hard because it’s a really physical job, we really can, just physically and mentally, can only do so many dogs per day,” Connors said.
Connors says the grooming industry has been short of workers for years.
“Nationwide, we didn’t have enough groomers, people just don’t have enough interest to be a part of this industry,” Connors said. “Then with COVID with people doubling their pets we just cannot keep up, we have more customers than we ever had before.”
Until more groomers can be trained, it means dog owners like Lam are having to get creative.
“I finagle my own grooming with house scissors for now,” Lam said. “Just trying to keep him cool is my plan for the summer.”
If you’re interested in becoming a dog groomer, many shops like Dirty Dog Spa offer on the job training that starts with bathing pets and after a few months of training, can help teach this highly valued skill.