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MIPP Program Paves the Way for Pet Groomer Training

Celebrating 100 Students Enrolled in 2022, The Michelson Institute for Pet Professions is Paving the Way for Equitable Pet Care Career Training in Los Angeles

Michelson Found Animals Foundation launched the Michelson Institute for Pet Professions (MIPP) in 2021 to provide training, certification, and job placement resources in the pet care industry in Los Angeles, starting with dog grooming. The program is geared toward individuals seeking careers working with animals that face systemic financial and access barriers to education and employment, including those recently or currently experiencing homelessness, former incarceration, former foster youth, LGBT youth, those in recovery, and more. 

From its start in late 2021, 21 students enrolled in MIPP and 13 graduated with a certification, with the remainder finishing in 2022. By the end of 2022, 100 students were enrolled, 70 graduated with a certification, and 30 more are still in progress toward this goal. The majority are now working and thriving in the dog grooming industry, some even being quickly promoted to Head Groomer at their salon.

With the support of West Coast Grooming Academy’s training program, MIPP students are accepted into a 12-week hands-on professional pet grooming certification course, with their tuition fully funded by the Michelson Found Animals Foundation. Their tuition and tools provided are valued at more than $8,000 ($7,250 for the class and $1,000 for grooming tools), which makes a huge impact on someone who is low-income. Students learn dog body language, bathing & grooming techniques, and receive a certification upon graduation, which provides an advantage once they’re looking for jobs in the industry. These are very in-demand skills – according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US pet grooming services market is expected to grow nearly 40 percent.

“Our goal with MIPP is for our students to ultimately be successful and find long-term, rewarding and lucrative careers working with animals. Ultimately, we hope to grow the program and support individuals in all types of jobs helping both pets and people.” 

– Heather Thomas, MIPP Program Manager 

MIPP is in the exploratory phase with hopes to expand into other high-demand pet professions, such as veterinary care and medical training. Here are a few inspirational graduates who excelled as part of MIPP, and are now living their dream as successful dog groomers.

Angel, Michelson Institute for Pet Professions student

“I’m formerly incarcerated, and when I got out, I didn’t want to go back to my old lifestyle of working different jobs and being stuck. I told myself that I would do something I love, and I chose to work with dogs. I had such a good experience at West Coast Grooming Academy and MIPP, and I’m so grateful to my instructors and classmates for giving me the opportunity to learn from them and become a successful dog groomer. I plan on doing big things!” – Angel G., MIPP Graduate, now working as Head Groomer at Moon Doggy’s in Santa Monica

Iris, Michelson Institute for Pet Professions graduate

“West Coast Grooming Academy knocked it out of the park. They did not sacrifice any quality of skill while emphasizing time and efficiency. They always kept us grounded in what the real world of grooming would be like, and also taught us to stand up for ourselves, know our limits, and set boundaries with future employers and clients. Overall, I had a wonderful time, and I would do it again if I could!” – Iris C., MIPP Graduate, now working at Balanced Dog Grooming in Long Beach

Brenda, Michelson Institute for Pet Professions graduate

“When I had some life changes, MIPP was there to help me follow my passion as a career! I now work as a paid groomer in Torrance, CA, and have also groomed many rescue dogs. West Coast Grooming Academy has a comprehensive curriculum, and my instructor set me up for success as a dog groomer!” – Brenda D, MIPP Graduate, now working at Hair of the Dog in Torrance

MIPP is currently recruiting students for its 2023 program. Looking for a rewarding career working with pets, or know someone that may be interested? 

 Visit to learn more and apply. 

Want to partner with the MIPP program and help provide access to more individuals in Los Angeles? MIPP partners with in-community service providers to reach prospective students who would otherwise not have considered a career path in grooming as an option. Partners include the LGBT Center, Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System (HOPICS),  LA Opportunity Youth Collaborative, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and Homeboy Industries. Email to learn more.