As Shih Tzus turn a fad, sham grooming centres crop up in Kerala
Recently, she took three of them to a pet grooming hostel in Thiruvananthapuram city for hair trimming as her usual pet grooming centre was busy.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Shih Tzu, the toy dog breed of Tibetan origin, is the latest fad among pet lovers, as their sale has witnessed a spike in the state. In tune with this trend, grooming and boarding centres for pets, too, are mushrooming. However, not all of them are genuine or experienced. The booming business has also seen sham centres crop up. The rising cases of harmful treatment of pets, and even their deaths, is evidence of this.
The surge in the sale of pets, especially dogs, began during the Covid lockdown. Known for their playful personality and calm demeanour, Shih Tzu, a lap dog, was the most preferred.
Veena Vikraman Nair, a former cabin crew with a leading airline, got six Shih Tzus. Recently, she took three of them to a pet grooming hostel in Thiruvananthapuram city for hair trimming as her usual pet grooming centre was busy.
“On arrival, we saw poop and pee and trash scattered all over the place. That should have been my first red flag, but since the owner spoke like a dog expert, I decided to give it a try. Since there was no waiting area, the staff asked us to come back later. On return, we saw that our dogs were shaven very unevenly, and one of them was injured,” Veena told TNIE. Even after three months, her dogs still tremble with fear when they hear the noise of the trimmer.
In another incident, an IT engineer, R Madhav, took his Dev, an eight-month-old Shih Tzu dog, to a pet hostel in the city. Two days later, he was informed that his dog had died. The issue is now under litigation. “In my absence, they took my Dev to the district veterinary hospital at PMG Junction, where the veterinarian pronounced it dead,” said Madhav.
‘Pet grooming centres have become lucrative biz’
“I am currently awaiting the outcome of the postmortem,” Madhav told TNIE. Parvathy Mohan, manager of an animal advocacy group, told TNIE that there are several complaints against pet grooming centres and pet hostels.
“Apart from these two instances, I also know about a pug that died at a pet hostel at Kazhakoottam. After its pet parents left the premises, the owner burst firecrackers so that the dog would not bark. The pug died of shock,” said Parvathy Mohan. Not all pet deaths are reported. There are likely more incidents across the state, she added.
According to a top health official of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, anyone can start a pet grooming centre/pet hostel with a trade license. “There are 200 pet grooming centres in Thiruvananthapuram alone. It has indeed become a lucrative business,” the official told TNIE.
On the recent incidents, the official said, “If animal welfare organisations approach the corporation with complaints, we can take action against the erring pet grooming centres,” but added that the animal husbandry department and the district collector have more powers to take action than the corporation.
V S Sreejith, who runs a chain of pet grooming centres across the state, said “Pet grooming should be done with passion. The moment it becomes a business, it is dangerous. A Shih Tzu requires nearly four hours to be groomed properly.”