Something strange happened to me today at work and I wanted to share it with you because it’s something that might affect all of you at some point in time.
One of my groomers was wearing a pair of sneakers that were brand-new, and I noticed that they were collecting hair on the bottom so bad that it was tracking through the entire shop when he would walk from one room to the other. Apparently he had worn them a couple of times this week and I just hadn’t noticed. In fact now a comment that the AG Department inspector made when he came to inspect makes a lot of sense to me; “There is hair everywhere in the shop!”
It turns out they had felt built into the bottom of them. Yes, they had a rubber soul like you would expect but there was felt in the middle of the footpad and even on the heel.
I’m not some experience with issues from before because my daughter has bought some flat shoes at Payless before that had them, so I know how much hair they collect as she used to work the front desk for me. What I didn’t realize until today is how dangerous they can be!
My groomer was sliding everywhere. He would clean off the bottom of the shoes take two steps and have the bottoms covered again. He actually said “I think I’m going to break my neck in these!” So I decided that a blog entry on what to look for in the soles of the shoe before buying it was a really good idea.
What I learned actually makes me very glad I am doing this article. Not only are they slippery and dangerous to walk in, they are actually banned in several states on fishing boots and water waders. Who would’ve ever thought that that felt on the bottom of the shoes would be a health hazard?
Felt bottom shoes have become popular with fishermen because they help grip better on slippery surfaces when they are wet. The problem is the felt never seems to dry out completely and it can transfer bacteria and fungi from one location to another. That is dangerous to the environment because it transfers illnesses that are isolated in one area to other areas where they are not present.
Since 2008 felt soled boots have been prohibited in New Zealand and various states in the United States are following suit: Maryland, Vermont, Alaska, Maine and Montana to name a few.
This got me thinking, which is a dangerous thing sometimes. In a grooming shop or a vet clinic this can be HIGHLY problematic because you could be tracking and parvo, distemper, or other illness that a dog or cat has and carry it from one part of your shop or clinic to another, possibly infecting other animals.
This is actually one of the hazards I never saw coming and had no idea was going to exist!
So what should you look for in choosing a pair of shoes to work in?
- Rubber soles that are easily cleaned
- slip resistant soles are always a good idea
- low-profile soles with little decoration
- shallow ripples or small nubs tend to work much better than deeper ones that can grab hair
- surfaces that can be disinfected easily
- really good support
I have actually had sneakers that before that I purchased two groom in that I couldn’t groom in because they were very, very flexible and the grooves in the bottom were very deep. Very deep grooves will trap just as much hair as felt will. If the bottom of the shoe is to smooth it will also slide across the top of the hair rather than grip the floor. So look for something with a little bit of traction on the bottom that’s not very high profile.
If you work at a vet clinic is extremely important that you be able to disinfect your shoes by either stepping in a bleach solution or spraying it with some type of disinfectant before you leave, and often times before you go into another room. One of the clinics I serviced had a parvo room and every time you went in and every time you went out you bleached your shoes. If nothing else you going to be spraying disinfectant on the bottoms and they need to be sturdy enough to handle it.
Even in a grooming shop it’s not a bad idea to disinfect your shoes before leaving and even when coming into the building. If you are around animal waste as in a boarding Kennel it can be critical to disinfect your shoes. Cheap shoes won’t stand up to disinfecting well so make sure you spend some money and get a good pair.
It’s just good sanitation to make sure your shoes are clean and cleanable! So it’s not just about safety it’s about health as well. Shoes with felt on the bottom cannot be sanitized and therefore have no place in the grooming shop or vet clinic in my opinion.
So next time you’re shopping for shoes don’t just look at the bottom price look at the bottom of the shoe! It may very well save you from injury and the lives of the dogs (or fish) you come into contact with may well be at risk if you don’t.