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Your Dog May Be Free To Get A Haircut In Michigan, But You’re Not

Lack of clarity abound in Governor’s confusing lockdown orders

Among the confusing provisions of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders is one that has been reported as lifting a lockdown on pet grooming as of May 29. Executive order 2020-96, which rescinds and supersedes executive orders 2020-17, 2020-34 and 2020-92, permits people to leave their home to “obtain necessary services or supplies for … their pets,” including veterinary services.

At the same time, the governor has not lifted a lockdown on barbershops and hair salons for humans.

In a May 14 interview with MLive, Whitmer was asked when pet groomers could go back to business.

“But I think that this is one where maybe there is an opportunity to move forward,” Whitmer said. “Especially if it is not a big facility where there are a lot of people working in close quarters. This is something we are taking a look at for a possibility in the next phase.”

According to the state, some retail businesses open May 26. The media reported that pet grooming would be allowed starting May 29.

But it’s unclear how Whitmer’s May 21 executive order specifically allows pet grooming.

Whitmer made an off-hand comment in her May 21 press conference about her own dog, which some in the media took to mean dog grooming would be allowed. But in her comment, Whitmer talked about “veterinarian services” which is not specifically pet grooming.

“And also all of you pet owners, the return of veterinarian services. If your dogs are shaggy like my little boy, Kevin, I know that that’s welcome news to some of you,” Whitmer said.

WJBK reported on the executive order: “The order allows these procedures and appointments to begin Friday, May 29. This includes pet grooming appointments as well, something Gov. Whitmer said she was looking forward to for her dog Kevin.”

It’s possible that pet grooming is covered by the segment of retail businesses that will be allowed to reopen on May 26.

The term “pet grooming” is not specifically mentioned in the latest executive order. The term “veterinary” is mentioned three times.

Pet grooming was specifically addressed as not being allowed in the April 24 Frequently Asked Question webpage published by the state.

In a Facebook message to Michigan Capitol Confidential, the Dirty Dog Pet Grooming business in Brownstown Township said that it “half assumed” dog grooming would be allowed once hair salons were allowed to reopen “since we seem to be lumped into hair salons, which will be the last to open.”

The Michigan Attorney General's office and the Governor's office didn't respond to emails asking where dog grooming was allowed under an executive order.