With California businesses on the verge of reopening to the public, one service wants to remind man's best friends and their owners that they're already back in the shop.

Pet-grooming businesses were shut down for nearly six weeks until the city recognized that pet grooming is a form of animal care and groomers were allowed to return to work in late April. Groomers say they've been busy trying to catch up with the backlog of appointments.

Social distancing protocols are still observed with employees spaced apart to work, then fully sanitizing stations after each interaction. The number of animal customers allowed has been greatly reduced to about one dog per hour, meaning no overlapping appointments.

Jennifer Melloy, the owner of Doggie Do's Pet Salon said, “We've taken half the volume. We're staying busy. It'll probably be this way for a while."

Some small-business owners worry that customers will visit other groomers if they can't get their dog in soon enough. Not only do they lose reliable customers but it can be a stressful experience for the dog to meet someone new, Melloy said.

"It can be tough on your dog, they don't get the chance to adjust," Melloy said. "My advice is wait for your regular groomer."

Melloy suggests that while dog owners wait for their appointment, they can brush and comb their pet's coat if possible. She warns not to wash matted hair because it will make it tighter.

Most pet groomers are dealing with the weeks of work ahead and are booked out into the foreseeable future. Pet owners should expect to wait a couple of weeks to get their dog in for an appointment. Businesses like Doggie Do's can't get in customers until June.

Scruffy To Fluffy Pet Spa is booked three weeks out. Co-owner Chris Rivera said that groomers have been working longer hours to make up for the delay.

"Have patience with businesses just opening," Rivera said. "There's plenty of work to go around everywhere. Bakersfield is big into helping our animals. When it comes to groomers, people are loyal."

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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