Barred from Brushing Doggie Molars, Patti Alexander Finds a Cause She Can Sink Her Teeth into
By choosing to make an example of this particular dog groomer, the state may have bitten off more than it can chew. Alexander, 31, has since fought tooth and nail to reverse the application of a law that can punish a groomer with a $2,000 fine. "I'm not doing this for the profit, I'm doing this for the dogs," says Alexander.
Suing for restraint of trade, she recently won round one in the dogfight. Alexander was granted a temporary injunction by the state superior court, allowing her to brush, floss and remove tartar. Now she wants to open the field wide to all groomers, arguing that they're as qualified to clean teeth as vets are. Besides, she adds, groomers aren't as expensive. Their fees run from $5 to $20 a cleaning; vets charge $75 to $100. "Let the dog owners make the decision, not the government," says Alexander. She lives in Stockton with her two children from her first marriage, Russell, 14, and Douglas, 12, and is pregnant by her soon-to-be groom, Alan Gunter, 22, who, ironically, is a veterinary technician.
Gunter sides with Alexander, but most others in his profession do not. Vets are using money and formidable lobbying power to bar groomers from cleaning teeth. But Alexander, who has the backing of at least 15 state senators and 25 representatives, is hoping to prove that the vets' bark is much worse than their bite.
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