WINDSOR, ONT. -- A lack of clear information has resulted in an abundance of confusion with Ontario pet groomers and owners.

Grooming businesses were forced to close under the Ontario’s latest lockdown rules but many groomers say they’ve been told they can still offer curb side services.

“It’s not just about beautification of the animals, it’s about health and welfare,” Virginia Crowe, owner of Shear Passion Pet Grooming near Ridgetown, Chatham-Kent said.

Groomers across Ontario are calling on the government to be clear, saying they’re uncertain if their industry has been deemed essential or not since the stay at home order came into effect during the latest lockdown.

“It was very short notice, so a lot of clients who didn’t want to come in for the Christmas rush said ‘oh I will wait till January,’” she said. “Well now those dogs are being pushed overdue, overdue, there’s matting, there’s nail issues.”

Crowe said those impacted contemplate risking a fine to take their pets to necessary appointments.

“We’re drawing a fine line with that,” she said. “Do we sneak you in the backdoor and hey come here, I’m going to take care of your dog, I’m going to make sure you can sleep tonight knowing that your dog is properly cared for? Or do we say screw it, you know what, you’re just going to have to wait because what we’re doing is unessential.”

Jessica Towsley, a frustrated pet owner, told CTV News the longer in between appointments, the more stressful it is for her dog, and can lead to veterinary issues.

“Because she can’t get groomed right now with everything being closed, if any of her hair gets into her eyes or near her eyes she’s prone to an eye infection which I don’t know anything about,” she said.

Chatham-Kent by-law and building inspector Travis Maxwell said in an emailed statement to CTV News that the provincial regulation allows businesses to remain open if they provide services to animals “that are necessary for their health and wellness.”

He said currently, groomers are operating by way of curbside service, being mindful of COVID-restrictions.

“In some situations, groomers may provide services beyond haircuts that are necessary for the health and welfare of animals,” Maxwell said.

He said during the previous lockdown they sought direction from the province on whether it included grooming, with confirmation it could stay open.

“However, more recently we have received conflicting interpretations from other municipalities and agencies,” Maxwell said. “As a result, we are reviewing our interpretation of this issue and will be in contact with affected businesses if anything changes.”