HELENA – Several barber and hair-stylists testified Monday against a proposed rule to ban most dogs from their premises in Montana, saying the animals are not a health threat – and that customers generally don’t mind them at all.
One hair-stylist also said having dogs at her shop in Hamilton helped her get through difficult times after her daughter died in a car accident – the same dogs owned by her late daughter.
“I needed to have my connection there at work,” said Janet Bierer of Red’s Hair Studio and Nail Salon. “(The dogs) come occasionally, because … when your child dies, there are days when that just hits you in the face.
“Without those dogs, I would have lost my business, I would have gone bankrupt. I would have never been able to continue getting through work and healing emotionally.”
The state Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists has proposed abolishing a rule that allows dogs and fish in barber shops and salons, under certain circumstances. The rule would still allow service dogs at the businesses.
The board is accepting public comment on the change until 5 p.m. Friday and hearings officer Dennis Clark heard testimony on the proposal Monday in Helena.
Clark, executive officer for the board, said more than 40 comments already have been submitted. That amount is more than usual on a proposed rule change, he said, but they haven’t been opened yet, so it’s not known how many may be opposed or in support.
The board, whose members didn’t attend Monday’s hearings, is scheduled to decide the issue at its July 16 meeting in Helena.
Five people testified against the rule Monday, including barbers and hair stylists from Hamilton, Helena and Montana City. No one spoke in support.
Tom Winger, who operates Blades Haircuts for Men in Hamilton, brought one of his three Boston terriers, Millie, to the hearing. She sat quietly in his arms as Winger told Clark that his dogs entertain kids and adults alike in his shop, and that he’s never had a complaint.
“The customers love these animals, as I’m sure they do in everybody else’s shop as well,” he said. “The ones that don’t are more than welcome to walk down the street to one of two places on my street alone that do not have an animal. Nobody is making them come in.”
He said it makes no sense to allow service dogs, while banning other dogs.
“I don’t care what tests all these dogs go through – a dog is a dog,” Winger said. “Some of them are kept cleaner by their owners and some of them are less cleaner than others. But a dog is still a dog.”
Bierer also said some customers like to bring their dogs to the salon, which she allows, and a rule banning those dogs would cause her to lose some of those customers.