Local pet groomer offering pet first-aid classes

Date Published: 
February 2, 2017

Coastal Point • Submitted: Kerrie Lynn Jones, certified groomer, certified Pet Tech instructor and owner of Wags to Riches Pet Grooming, demonstrates pet first-aid during a presentation.Coastal Point • Submitted: Kerrie Lynn Jones, certified groomer, certified Pet Tech instructor and owner of Wags to Riches Pet Grooming, demonstrates pet first-aid during a presentation.When pet groomer Kerrie Lynn Jones’ Brussels griffon choked on some cheese, she knew what to do. She began protocol she learned as part of becoming a pet first-aid instructor and helped to dislodge the grated cheese that had “coagulated” in her dog’s throat.

“I still remember the high I got off of bringing my dog back to life,” Jones said.

The owner of Wags to Riches Pet Grooming, Jones had taken a class in pet first-aid for her own information, as well as for professional reasons.

“I groom 50 animals a week,” so she thought it made sense to be prepared in case any dog ever suffered a health emergency while she was grooming it. Having had one dog “pass out on the table while I was grooming it,” Jones said she knows first-hand that emergencies can and do happen.

Now, Jones and her partner, Merry Tabetha Compton, are offering classes in pet first-aid and CPR for the public. The four-hour class covers a wide range of pet emergencies, from choking and seizures to poisoning and insect stings.

Other topics covered in the class include: CPR and rescue breathing; muzzling and restraint techniques; bleeding protocols; and shock management.

Muzzling techniques can be carried out with something as simple as a shoestring, Jones said. “Any dog that is in pain can and will bite,” she said, and knowing how to restrain a pet that is agitated or likely to become agitated can be crucial.

Participants will also learn what items should be part of every pet owner’s “emergency” kit. Jones offered some of the items in her own kit as examples of things that pet owners can gather for emergencies: tea bags for blood-clotting; wraps for injuries; something that can be used as a muzzle, newspapers for splinting injured limbs; and an old credit card, to help remove insect stingers imbedded in an animal’s skin.

Another item that pet owners should have handy, Jones said, is a picture of themselves and the animal.

“It helps to prove that the animal is really yours,” she said.

According to Jones, pet first-aid training can save the lives of pets in 25 percent of life-threatening emergencies — which is more than worth the effort of taking the class, as far as she is concerned.

The training she and Compton offer is by Pet Tech, which is the company the Department of Homeland Security uses to train its employees, Jones said. It is appropriate for anyone, including children, she said.

Participants will learn a skill called a “snout-to-tail assessment” that can be used on a pet at any time — in an emergency to check for injuries or in situations that might not be immediately obvious, or as a regular assessment in order to establish “baseline” conditions of a pet so it is easier to notice when anything changes.

The class covers rescue techniques for dogs of all shapes and sizes, as well as for cats. Jones said there are basically three techniques: “standard,” “barrel-chested” for large dogs and the “taco” technique for small dogs and cats. The technique used for a choking animal, Jones said, is similar to the Heimlich maneuver for humans.

Each participant receives a 40-page first-aid handbook for cats and dogs, for both reminders and for quick reference in case of an emergency.

Although she strongly recommended that anyone who works with dog and cats take the first-aid class, anyone — even children — can benefit from it, Jones said.

She said she took it as a matter of professional growth, and because she knew that at some point she would have a “customer” with a health emergency.

“I assumed I would have dogs with seizures,” she said. She added that older pets — particularly those 7 and older — are particularly at risk for emergencies such as heat stroke, so pet first-aid is even more important for those with aging pets.

Jones said she will never forget the day her own dog almost died from something as simple as a tiny bite of shredded cheese.

“She loved cheese,” she said. But shortly after Jones gave it to her, “She was on the floor and she was choking to death.” Her first-aid training kicked in, and Jones began by checking her dog’s airway, where she saw immediately that the cheese was stuck in her dog’s throat and cleared it.

PetSaver first-aid classes are being offered at Wags to Riches Pet Grooming in West Fenwick in February, March and April. For more information, call Kerrie Lynn Jones at (302) 381-6052 (cell phone) or the Wags to Riches salon at (302) 436-4766.