Pet Grooming 101: Brushing Up on Grooming Certifications

by Olivia Watson, Team Petmasters

Most pet parents would agree that when they request a pet service of any kind, they are looking for a trustworthy, responsible, and above all qualified professional to care for the animal they love. Yet with so many certifications, associations, and organizations surrounding pet professionals, it can be difficult to navigate these titles and the skillsets they represent. So what does professionalism look like in the pet grooming industry, especially for pet parents who may have no idea who they’re handing their precious pup or favorite feline off to for hours at a time? 

What You May Not Know About Pet Grooming:

While most grooming businesses, veterinary clinics, pet stores, and kennels employ certified pet pros, it is important to consider that most states do not regulate or license groomers. As a result, their training could range from no certification to the prestigious title of National Certified Master Groomer – one of the highest honors for a pet professional who has passed a series of comprehensive written tests and practical exams.

Certified Master Groomer Linda Easton from International Professional Groomers, Inc. notes that, “Apprenticeship is the way most of us old time groomers learned the trade.” A groomer with no certifications may have started as a grooming assistant or apprentice and learned on the job – perhaps through a family grooming business.

Increasingly, however, aspiring pet professionals choose to get certified through a reputable training program or grooming school that requires extensive knowledge and practical experience.

By acquiring their certification, pet groomers undoubtedly hone their skills and boost their credibility as professionals and business owners.

Some well-known grooming schools for dogs and cats in the U.S. include:

While these schools offer specialized grooming programs, people can also get certified through an association or organization. Some of the bigger names include:

But what does it mean for pet groomers to belong to these communities?

Membership vs. Certified Membership:

A groomer can gain entry into the above-mentioned organizations by earning their certification or registering as a member. They may become a member because they support the grooming curriculum, code of conduct, or safety protocol but that does not mean they are certified to uphold these standards in a professional setting. Look out for this! Someone who is not yet certified or may be in the process of getting certified could be a member of a reputable association and maintain a paid membership position that does not require the same effort or skill set as an officially certified member.

Two examples of associations that use a two tier membership system are the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) and the International Professional Groomers, Inc. (IPG). In the United States, the largest dog grooming association is the NDGAA. Since 1969, they have been promoting proper education in the grooming industry, while trying to unify pet groomers with recognized standards.

To be a registered member of the NDGAA, one must be working towards a grooming certification or have achieved it already. Registered membership is open to all groomers in grooming school or apprenticeship training who are at least ¾ of the way through their program. Therefore, to be a member of this association in any capacity demonstrates serious commitment. Certified members of this association can also choose to go above and beyond the basic title to become a National Certified Master Groomer, by taking extensive additional written and practical exams.  

Newer to the grooming scene is IPG, created in 2014 to educate, certify, and uphold professional standards in the grooming world. Similar to the NDGAA, they offer two kinds of membership: those pursuing their certifications on a specific tract: Certified Salon Professional (CSP), Certified Professional Groomer (CPG), Certified Advanced Professional Groomer (APG) or registered members. Unlike the NDGAA, groomers can register to be paid members of this organization that abide by their Code of Ethics but are not certified or perhaps not even in the process of getting certified. So what does it take to earn these certifications and why should you be looking for a groomer who has put in the work?

Getting Certified:

Pet grooming programs or schools generally include courses in safety, first aid, anatomy, biology, breed and coat type recognition, nail clipping, brushing, ear cleaning, matted fur, and fluff drying. This knowledge is invaluable to a professional who will likely be spending an hour or more one-on-one time with your pet. It is crucial they know how to respond to a pet emergency, and of course possess the necessary skills of proper grooming.

Thus, acquiring a grooming certification requires a considerable time commitment that demonstrates dedication. Though some programs are shorter, most grooming certification courses are about 480 hours total, or roughly 16 weeks. While different programs use slightly different terminology, a Certified Professional Groomer (CPG) is typically the most basic level of recognition while Certified Master Groomer (CMG) or National Certified Master Groomer (NCMG) is the more prestigious title that awards a groomer for a more rigorous training process.

For the NDGAA, the NCMG certification requires a written exam that consists of 400 questions, covering toy and hound groups, anatomy, breed standards, breed identification, a glossary of canine terms, general health, pesticides, and cat questions. To be awarded this elite certification, the groomer needs to be able to put a correct trim on several dogs in different breed categories: Non-Sporting, Sporting, Long-legged Terriers, and Short-legged Terriers. A written exam accompanies the practical exam for each breed group. Most importantly, before a pet pro can begin this process, they must have passed all other phases of their certification with an average percentage of 85 or higher. So is it worth it?

Groomers who share their experiences in online forums often weigh the advantages of earning this elite status. Most pet groomers are hungry to achieve the highest level of professionalism in their industry and like to be considered a master of their profession. These groomers have gone above and beyond to ensure the highest level of care for your pet. So what standards should pet pros be held to once they are considered masters, or certified pros at the least? 

Ethical Standards and Guidelines for Pet Grooming:

There are organizations that exist to promote education and knowledge about safety standards and ethics for pet care across the board. Some of them do not offer memberships or certifications, but instead a pet constitution of sorts.

For grooming specifically, The Professional Pet Groomers and Stylists Alliance exists to assure the uniformity of standards of care, safety, and sanitation taught through certification and/or training programs. Major brands like Petco and PetSmart are members of this collaboration that provides a uniform set of standards to which all responsible groomers and stylists should adhere to, regardless of where and how they were trained.

Though not as critical as safety and sanitation, your dog or cat’s styling and appearance is certainly important in a grooming appointment! The American Kennel Club (AKC) provides an aesthetic baseline for what dogs should like according to the standards for their breed. This registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States is the primary criteria used in dog grooming across the states. The American Cat Association (ACA) offers a similar registry of cat breeds that groomers can use as a reference.  

Be Paw-sitive About Your Pet Groomer:

Knowing that your groomer has the necessary experience and qualifications is of the utmost importance to your pet’s safety and happiness. Petmasters exists for a similar reason – to ensure that dedicated and skilled pet professionals connect with pet parents and build a community of pet lovers that understands its professionals and vice versa. Now you can be sure that when you pass your pet off to a perfect stranger, they are the committed, knowledgeable purr-fessional you expect! 

The Power of Recycling

By Benjamin Blackburn, Marketing Merchandiser for Pet Waste Eliminator

Recycling is by far one of the best ways you can have a positive impact on the world we live in. I know some individuals, companies, and facilities feel like they can’t make a difference by recycling, but after some intense research, I have compiled some stats that may change that perspective.

Why should you be recycling? 

Let’s start off with the big WHY!  As I stated above, recycling helps protect and preserve the environment one piece of trash at a time.  It helps reduce pollution that is caused by waste and reduces the need for raw materials so that rainforests can be preserved.

As recycling saves a ton of energy, it also reduces greenhouse gases and thus helps to tackle climate change.  When we recycle, materials are reprocessed into new products and as a result, the amount of trash sent for incineration reduces significantly.  Reducing, reusing, and recycling is very important because it decreases the amount of waste on the planet and preserves natural resources by maintaining space and decreasing landfills.

When it comes to pet waste products, Pet Waste Eliminator is definitely on the green train and striving to make the earth a better place with efficient products.

Using a product that contains recycled content helps reduce waste and pollution; completing the Recycling Circle.  Products like the Pet Waste Eliminator poopie bags E40 & E41 help to ensure that recyclable materials will continue to be recycled and not wasted.  These pet waste bags are made from 100% recycled materials and have a total thickness of 3.15 Mils.  That’s thicker than a Heavy Duty trash bag, so you will not feel any warmth when picking up waste and it eliminates any transmission of bacteria.  In this day and age you might think that creating a bag that’s made from 100% recycled material sounds easy, but as it turns out – it was a “nifty” trick that took a lot of time and effort.

Now you’re probably wondering “What do I do with waste after I pick it up?”  There are a number of things you can do with pet waste after it’s collected:

  • Most obvious solution is flushing it down the toilet
  • Another option is to bury you pet’s droppings…be sure to bury the waste in several locations and at least 12 inches deep
  • An easier & cleaner solution would be to simply bag it up in one of Pet Waste Eliminator’s poopie bags (E40 or E41) and throw it in the recycling bin

What if we stopped recycling?

Nobody ever stops and thinks; what would happen if we didn’t recycle?  What would the world look like if we all just said “no” to recycling and continued producing the same amount of waste?

Honestly, you wouldn’t see any changes tomorrow if the world decided not to recycle.  However, the landfills that currently handle all of the waste would take the hugest hit.  On average, a person generates 4 pounds of waste per day.  If all of their waste goes to the trash, multiply it by 7.484 billion people on earth.  That’s 29.9 billion pounds of waste in landfills every single day.

Now take all of that and multiply it by the days in the month.  Try a year, or even a decade.  It doesn’t take long to see the compounding long term effects that not recycling would have on our precious earth.

To sum it all up, you as an organization or even an individual can help the Earth by simply building those healthy recycling habits in your facilities, work areas, and homes.

The goal with Pet Waste Eliminator is pretty simple. We want to make sure there are Pet Waste Stations filled with the highest quality bags all over the country so pet owners won’t have to scramble to find a bag when their pets make a mess.

This wide selection of high-quality of Pet Waste Systems includes Dog Waste Bag Dispenser Boxes, Pet Waste Stations, Trash Cans and Dog Waste Bags.

Quick Facts:

  • The average person generates 4 lbs. of trash daily
  • A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days
  • Americans throw away about 25,000,000 bottles an hour

Quick Tips:

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Buy recycled
  • Anticipate Recycling

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About the Author:

Benjamin Blackburn is a Marketing Merchandiser for Pet Waste Eliminator based out of Houston, Texas but also serves customers throughout the United States. He has always had a passion helping others and contributing his talents for the team to succeed as a whole.  Creating and developing products that help customers keep dog left overs off of the ground is Benjamin’s top priority in his Marketing role at Pet Waste Eliminator.

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Social Learning in Dogs

By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, Owner and Founder of the Dogue Shop

What is social learning in dogs, and why bother with social cognitive learning theory (SCT)? Here is a look at a theory which is rapidly changing dog training, but more specifically, dog behavior modification. The topic is complex; therefore, allow me to break it down into a few sections.

What is social cognitive learning theory?

Social cognitive learning is an extension of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory developed in the 1960s. One definition for social learning is reciprocal determinism based on social influences developed during attachment. The social bond directly influences imitation. In the SCT the attachment style is the most important aspect of learning.

Bandura concluded his observations after he conducted an experiment we now refer to as the bobo doll. Researchers exposed children to aggressive behaviors exhibited by adults towards toys. Researchers found children who observed adults inflicting aggressive behaviors to toys were more likely to replicate the aggression than children exposed to passive behavior. Furthermore, the attachment of the child towards the adult yielded more aggressive behaviors than observations from strangers.

Bandura explained the model with the use of a triangle. Each part of the triangle is bi-directional and must be present for learning to occur. Break one direction and learning ceases. The theory states a secure attachment between individual subjects allows for learning to take place when placed in a favorable environment; therefore, if all three components are present, learning takes place. The revolutionary process has to do with cognition. Problem solving links to attachment to problem solving because it creates a trusting association between the two individuals.

A secure attachment, in turn, allows the cognitive process to flourish. However, if the environment is stressful, distracting, or uncomfortable: too hot, too cold, noisy, smelly, cluttered, too small, too big, etc. learning will be very difficult, not to say impossible. Another important factor influences learning: the individuals involved. Both parties within the triangle need to be predisposed to learning. The biological environment we call the body is directly responsible to successes or failures. If you need to urinate, you will not teach or learn. If a dog needs to urinate, we obtain the same result. Below are the necessary components for social cognitive learning to occur.

  • Human
    • Biology
    • Cognition
  • Dog
    • Biology
    • Cognition
  • Attachment
    • Secure
  • Environment
    • Climate
    • Size
    • Sensory

Although some components can change over time, others will remain the same. Behaviorism remains essential and we will not replace one theory with another. I propose you add it to your tool box.

Why bother with social cognitive theory?             

Social cognitive learning is not only fun, it saves training time, effort, emotional disturbances, and cost. It prevents stress, confusion, emotional overload, and weight problems associated with overfeeding treats. It also reduces aggression and eliminates punishment and the use of aversive tools such as chokes, prongs, electric shock, or e-collars. Any method can be made abusive and inadequate, but social learning breaks the rule.

A person cannot create a triangle from pokes and kicks. Problem solving will not occur if electric shocks or “vibrations” are administered to animals. In my experience, the social cognitive learning model prevents and eliminates abuse. Extreme positive reinforcement only and punishment based trainers cannot establish a relationship if one of the pieces of the triangle is missing or if one direction is not functional.

Another reason to hop-on the social cognitive learning bandwaggon is the effectiveness and speed at which behavior modification occurs. Here is an example: you want to train a service dog to accomplish the open drawer behavior. With behaviorism’s classical and operant conditioning, it would take month, if not years, to shape the behavior. If we apply SCT learning to the training process, we can train complex behavior chains in a matter of minutes. I do not know about you, but to me, that is amazing and practical when dogs needed to know their behaviors, say, yesterday.

Furthermore, SCT learning facilitates behavior modification because it addresses problems at their source: emotions. Behaviorism works toward behavior changes, positive or negative. Social cognitive learning changes emotions at their fundamental core; consequently, SCT is an excellent addition to your toolbox. I know, I am repeating myself, but the process is so amazing. Imagine dogs that not only learn; imagine dogs that have learned how to learn; consequently, they offer you behaviors you have just demonstrated.

Conclusion

Social cognitive learning theory will not replace behaviorism – it will complement it. Our responsibility towards animals is to train them in the least amount of time, limit financial strain, and lessen emotional disturbance as much as possible. When we can, our role is to utilize all the knowledge available to us. I believe, as an animal professional, attachment and imitation can help us train and modify behavior without lengthy protocols or emotional disturbance, so why turn a blind eye?

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About the Author:

Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, Owner and Founder of the Dogue Shop, has been training animals professionally for over 30 years. She offers innovative training programs, workshops, conferences, and seminars which will undoubtedly challenge your dog knowledge. Gaby works with a wide variety of species but concentrates on canidae (wolves, coyotes, and dogs), equidae (zebras, horses, mules, and donkeys), and muriadae (rats and mice). Her favorite animal to train is the giraffe. Gaby spends most of her time bettering the animal community however she can. Her perspective on life is to never think within the box, for the box limits you.

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Preparing for Hurricane Season

By Michelle Patel, Owner of Pet Life Saver in Jacksonville, Florida

Hurricane season is upon us.  When making preparations for possible evacuations, it is important to plan for our furry family members also.  The last thing you want to do is leave your pet home in an emergency to fend for him or herself.  Preplanning takes much of the stress out of an emergency situation when it arises.  Before the storm is approaching, do some research on animal friendly shelters.  Know your evacuation routes and scope out hotels that are pet friendly. Keep their contact information handy so that you can book a room as soon as you know you will need one. When disasters are imminent, rooms (especially pet friendly ones) book up quickly. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccinations is not only good for their health, but also up to date vet records are often a requirement for bringing an animal to a shelter or hotel.

Evacuating as soon as possible will greatly reduce your travel time. The closer people wait until mandatory evacuations, the more congested the roadways get. When traveling with your pet, you will want a minimum of three days worth of medications, food/treats, toys, water, a towel or blanket, litter and a litter pan (for cats), a first aid kit, paper towels, trash bags, carrier, and leash/harness. If you keep these items in a large bin, that is one item off of your to do list when an emergency strikes.  Everything is already together (except for the perishables that need to be packed last minute), and you can simply grab the bin.

If you do not plan to travel with your pet, have several boarding options available. Do research ahead of time to know which vet offices and boarding facilities will board during a disaster.  Make sure you have their 24-hour contact information handy, as one can never be sure when a disaster will strike.

If you decide not to evacuate for whatever reason, figure out the safest room in your home and set up camp together there. Make sure there are no unsafe areas where frightened pets can run off to, hide in, and escape your reach.  Keep poisonous substances out of your pet’s reach.  Bring any outdoor pets inside at the first sign of approaching danger. Keeping dogs on leashes and cats in carriers prevents you from having to round them up if you need to leave in a hurry.  Monitor the situation via radio, television, or cell phone regularly, and do not leave your home until it is safe to do so.

Sometimes disaster can strike while you are away, and you cannot get to your pets at home.  It is always advisable to have someone trustworthy that can access your home and care for your pets in the event you are unable to.  Carrying a card on your person at all times with instructions on who to contact in the event of an emergency is helpful to emergency personnel if anything were ever to happen to you and you could not get to your pets.

The first line of defense against a pet getting lost is ensuring proper identification.  Ideally, two forms of identification should be on the pet at all times.  A permanent form of ID (such as a microchip or tattoo) is recommended.  Since these are permanent, they cannot be removed from your pet.  A veterinarian can read these and get in touch with you.  Additionally, a collar with identification tags containing the address and phone number to the pet parent increases the likelihood that someone who finds your pet will be able to reach out to you.  It is critical to keep the contact information up to date at all times.  GPS trackers that are located on your pet’s collar are also becoming quite popular.  In case you ever need to show proof of ownership, it is a good idea to always carry a photo of you and your pet.  When it comes to our pets, we can never be too cautious.

Always being prepared for a hurricane would come in handy if any other emergency were to come about as well.  We never know when a fire, flood, tornado, break in, terrorist attack, etc. could happen.

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About the Author:

Michelle Patel is the owner of Pet Life Saver, where she teaches pet CPR and first aid classes.  She has lived in Jacksonville for the past 14 years.  Ever since Michelle can remember, animals have always held a special place in her heart.  She currently has three cats: Baby Girl, General, and Manny.
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Till Death Do Us Part

By Yolanda Steyn, Co-founder of EETO (Extreme Equestrian Trail Organization of South Africa) and Director of Opposital, Horses & Humans in Harmony

One of the most challenging decisions for an animal lover is the decision to set their beloved animals free if they are suffering physically. Letting go – why is it so difficult for humankind?  Some clients have reported that it is harder saying goodbye to their furry family than to their own human family. The reason for this? Unconditional love.  Animals don’t have time and space restrictions like humans. They don’t need Google Maps or Rolex watches.  Their love is unconditional. They are not bound by written contracts. Their existence is to be in balance, to make the very best of every day. They are givers, not receivers. They don’t fear death.

A session I did on Freedom Day 2017 taught me some valuable lessons.

A client asked me to assist with their grey beautiful mare and 5 month old foal.  The foal had septicemia in her knee joint.  The vet advised the guardian to put the foal down.  They wanted to have confirmation that this would be the right thing to do.

I started the session with the question – how does Topaz (the dam) say good bye to Misty (her foal) if this is the desired outcome?  Even my usual background music sounded like funeral music that day.  It is much harder for humans to accept death. We feel more emotional dealing with foals as we hold life expectancies, dreams, and hopes for them. Topaz told me that death is not like we perceive it.  Death is the beginning not the end – a paradox. Lesson one.

During the session, I was reminded by Willow, a bay gelding that visited our yard, that communicated we need to change our “think”.  He didn’t call it the thinking process, he called it THINK. THINK in bold capital letters.  This is a tall order. We mustn’t think that the foal will perceive her death like we do. Lesson two.

Topaz is an extremely proud mother. She carries the energy of serenity around her. For her it is more important to feel that she has given everything.  No regrets.  Topaz is saddened by the event but she knows how important freedom is to a horse.  Without freedom they can’t be a horse.  She was very humble when she gave me these words. (My heart goes out to all the horses that are trapped in their stables or small paddocks. They need space to move, space to be free.)

You can’t have the pasture and not enjoy it.  This will be far worse than letting her foal go.  It is her choice to let her foal go. Setting Misty free.  Topaz asked that the owner be present with the procedure.  The presence of the owner would comfort her.  She asked to be with Misty and that the proceedings are done in the pasture. It would be less stressful.

Horses don’t judge us. They don’t experience death like we do.  For them it is walking through another gate. No expectations. Without freedom you cannot exist. Without freedom you are trapped. Lesson 3.

Misty shared that we all live in different time zones. Sometimes we live past each other. We don’t understand each other.  All of us are on our own journey. Our own belief system. She has tried hard to recover, but it wasn’t meant for her. She wanted to be free.  Free to play and to run once again.  Free to be a playful foal.  With her injury it is impossible for her.  She saw her death as traveling to a different time zone. She was ready to be parted from her mom in her physical body.

I am always amazed by the words of wisdom horses share with me during a session.  Topaz shared that we all have expectancies in life. We judge ourselves to live up to those expectations. It is human nature to set these expectancies too high. Humans often feel like failures because it is impossible to live up to those expectations. This creates fear and guilt. Horses live in the present moment. No fear and no guilt.  Only truth. The truth was that the foal got injured. It wasn’t our human expectation.  Please don’t let guilt or fear take the place of love. Lesson 4.

I received a message from the guardian later that afternoon to say that the procedure went smoothly and she highlighted the significance that it was Freedom Day.

Till death do us part – freedom is awaiting us.

*Names of the horses have been changed

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About the author:

Yolanda is an animal communicator and equine specialist. Looking after the well-being of horses is her first priority. Her passion is to create harmony between people and horses. She studied Human Resources and Learning Development and is a qualified Sanef Level 2 Western Instructor. She is also a registered healer with the Healing Animal Organization. She was one of the first groups of students in South Africa to train in the Mastersons Method and she is also a qualified TTouch practitioner. Yolanda is the Co-founder of EETO – Extreme EquestrianTrail Organization of South Africa and the director of Opposital. Additionally, she has played a vital role in developing Sanesa Western School Shows.

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Tips for Recovering Lost Dogs on July 4th

By Kathy Pobloskie, Co-founder Lost Dogs of America

At Lost Dogs of America, we try to prevent dogs from getting lost by educating the public about the dangers of fireworks and other stressful situations for pets surrounding the July 4th holiday. But we also recognize that over the holiday, we will receive dozens of reports for missing dogs from owners who were caught unaware. We are a first response agency and our mission is not to judge owners for not heeding the warnings, but to give sound, logical advice that will give them the best opportunity to recover their missing dog safely.

We help owners “profile” their situation so that they can concentrate their efforts on what probably happened to their dog.  Dogs lost from the noise of fireworks fall into our category of “dogs lost from stressful situations”. Although we never say never, dogs lost from stressful situations do not usually go far unless they are chased.  They bolt in fear and then hide.  They often will return home on their own when everything goes quiet (maybe a few hours or a few days later) or they will be recovered nearby when they finally come out of hiding.

We find that if owners follow our “Five Things to Do When You Have Lost Your Dog” action plan (see below) , the chance that they will be successfully reunited with their dog is greatly increased. It is also extremely important that owners ask everyone who is helping them to not call or chase their dog if they see him. Dogs who aren’t being called or chased will make wise decisions and may survive indefinitely – allowing the owner a chance to implement a strategic plan to catch them. Dogs who are being chased will make poor decisions and run the risk of bolting into traffic and being injured or killed.

We also discourage owners from posting rewards for their missing dogs. Rewards encourage people to chase the dog which can endanger his life. Lost dogs who are allowed to settle and relax can usually be successfully and safely caught.  

Enjoy your July 4th holiday but please be aware of the dangers of fireworks and keep your pets safe!  If your dog does go missing please file a report immediately with our software partner, Helping Lost Pets, who will create a free flyer and social media links for you to use.  We are an entirely free service run by volunteers and we want to help you get your dog back home safely. Happy July 4th!

Five Things To Do If You Have Lost Your Dog
[please click the above image to enlarge]

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About the author:

Kathy Pobloskie is the director and co-founder of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, an all-volunteer 501c.3 organization committed to reuniting owners with their lost dogs. Lost Dogs of Wisconsin currently has sixty plus volunteers and over 70,000 Facebook fans who share postings and help find lost dogs in Wisconsin.  Kathy is also a co-founder of Lost Dogs of America, an umbrella organization that is helping other Lost Dogs State Facebook pages get off the ground.  Currently 35 states are participating. In 2016 alone, Lost Dogs of America helped reunite over 27,000 dogs with their families. All of the services provided by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs of America are free to the public.

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