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Petco to Furlough Many Employees


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With sales dropping amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Petco has decided to furlough many of its employees. The company’s overall workforce includes approximately 27,000 people. Officials made the announcement on its website April 16, adding that other employees will either receive temporary reduced hours or salary reductions.

“Since the outset of the pandemic, our top priority has been protecting the health, safety and overall well-being of our own employees, as well as people and pets in the communities we serve,” officials said in its statement. “In light of current business dynamics, we made some difficult decisions and temporary changes to our workforce. None of these decisions were made lightly, and all of them are intended to minimize financial impact to individuals by positioning impacted employees to leverage the Federal CARES Act exactly as it was intended.” 

In a companywide email, Petco’s chief stores officer Justin Tichy wrote that several positions including “various dog trainer roles, entry guest experience specialists, and selling experience leaders” will be placed on a furlough of up to eight weeks, according to a Business Insider article

“We can no longer continue to operate as we have so far,” Tichy wrote. “To ensure our ability to weather this storm, and come out of it even stronger, we’ve made some difficult partner decisions. These decisions were designed to minimize financial impact to individuals and protect the future of Petco and will impact the entire organization.”

However, the furloughs will leave one particular set of workers almost in the clear, groomers.

Is Grooming Essential? 

“Only ‘some’ grooming salon workers will be included in the furloughs ‘based on the current status of their salon,’ meaning in states where authorities have mandated that these facilities close,” according the Business Insider article.

Whether or not grooming centers should remain open has spurred much debate.

“While some argue grooming is a vanity service—similar to human haircuts, which have been indefinitely halted due to the closure of salons and spas—others say it’s essential to maintaining the hygiene of pets,” wrote Business Insider.

But at what cost to groomers? According to Priscilla Perez, a Petco groomer in El Paso, Texas, too much.

“They’re putting profit over groomers’ lives,” Perez told Business Insider. “They’re preaching ‘flatten the curve stay home,’ but they’re not practicing it. Especially in the grooming salon. It’s impossible for us to be six feet apart from our customers.”

Petco officials stand by the notion that grooming is essential for pet health and well-being.

“We further refined our grooming offerings to focus only on that which is essential to health and wellness of pets,” said Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco, in a video message thanking its employees for serving pets. “Because without proper routine grooming care and hygiene, pets can be at risk for infections.”

Petco officials also announced that, effective April 27, Coughlin will forgo 100 percent of his salary, while senior vice presidents and vice presidents will take 25 percent and 15 percent cuts, respectively. 

In addition, Petco recently eliminated 35 corporate office positions, which represents less than 1 percent of its overall workforce, officials said.

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