Animals care students at Bath College won’t have to go far for work experience with a commercial dog grooming salon onsite at the Somer Valley Campus.
The new salon, run by Heather’s Pet Care, has opened offering grooming for all breeds of dogs and cats, as well as a collection and drop off service.
An open-plan teaching room at the college has been refurbished and redecorated to house a bath, drying table, finishing table and cages.
Manager Heather Thomas will run the salon as a commercial business and will also show students how to care for animals.
She said: “It’s brilliant getting involved with the college and helping the students.
“I want to help the students get where they need to be, because I was there myself back in the day.
“When I started animal care, my course was nothing like this. This would have been awesome having work experience onsite.
“This is going to be a working environment – it’s going to be exactly as it would be in the workplace.”
Ms Thomas, a qualified animal behaviourist, started off her business from home nine years ago and now manages 15 members of staff.
Since then, she has seen an increase in the number of customers asking for dog grooming with a rise in the popularity of poodle cross-breeds.
With a busy business to run, she will be asking students to help manage the reception desk and waiting room, as well as helping in the salon.
Ms Thomas said: “Cockapoos are probably our most popular breed after Labradors.
“Dogs crossed with poodles don’t malt. The by-product of this is you do have to have them groomed otherwise their fur ends up matted.
“I got my first member of staff when I fell pregnant. I needed someone to cover for me and six months after having my baby I started recruiting more staff.
“When you’re busy you don’t have time to step back and do a reality check. The other day I got a second to myself and I thought ‘blimey I’m managing all this’.”
Jayne Withers, head of Land-based studies at Bath College, is looking forward to seeing the first customers come through the door.
She said: “It’s quite unique to have a commercial business operating in a college.
“We have high expectations for the students and want them to be thoroughly prepared for the world of work.
“It’s about bringing the general public into the college environment.
“At the moment, there’s a big push towards enterprise and being aware of how the college can work with commercial organisations.
“The new salon will serve the community and bring people into the college, boosting the reputation of the college and the department in turn.”