Following a string of dog deaths in New Jersey at the hands of groomers, legislation has been introduced that would make it illegal for someone to bathe, brush or style your pet, for compensation, without a proper license.

And in order to obtain that license, one must pass an exam prepared by or approved by the state.

"Pets are members of our families, they're loved ones, and we want to make certain that when we drop them off to get groomed, that they're in the best of hands," state Senator Kip Bateman (R-Somerset), the bill's sponsor, told the Townsquare News Network.

Under the measure, a licensed pet groomer must be at least 18 years old and "of good moral character."

A dog dropped off at a PetSmart for grooming in early April became the third to die at one of the chain's New Jersey locations in less than five months.

Bateman's legislation mirrors an Assembly measure introduced in February. The bills are named after Bijou, a Shih Tzu who unexpectedly died while being groomed at a pet salon in 2011.

Bijou unexpectedly died while being groomed at a pet salon in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Rosemary Marchetto)

“Bijou died at the hands of a groomer during a routine grooming when he was only six years old, which prompted my push for legislative protections to ensure that all dog groomers in New Jersey are trained and licensed and know how to properly care for our pets,” said Rosemary Marchetto, Bijou’s owner, in a news release. “'Bijou’s Law’ will elevate the dog grooming industry to a regulated licensed profession. After ‘Bijou’s Law’ passes in New Jersey, it is my intention to pass ‘Bijou’s Law’ on the federal level.”

Bateman began investigating legislative remedies after learning of one of the PetSmart deaths in December — Scruffles, an English bulldog that passed away at the Flemington location.

"If we're going to regulate hair and nail salons for humans, we should do the same for our furry friends," Bateman said.

The legislation would also mandate that every pet grooming facility in New Jersey submit an annual "pet incident file" that lists pet injuries, escapes, severe injuries and deaths.

Sign up for the WPG Talk Radio 104.1 Newsletter

Get South Jersey news and information e-mailed to you every week.