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Furballs to the Rescue
Your dog’s hair can help clean up the Gulf oil spill
These are not sausages: Old nylons stuffed with hair and fur work well as oil containment booms.

Every day news of the expanding oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico gets worse. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil gush into bio-rich waters. Looking at satellite images and reading the stories, it’s easy to feel helpless. But there is a unique opportunity for pet owners to help out. The nonprofit charity Matter of Trust is facilitating donations of clean pet fur, mostly from groomers—as well as human hair, mostly from salons—which are woven into hair mats that are extremely effective at soaking up oil or stuffed into donated nylons to create oil containment booms for the Gulf clean up. Matter of Trust estimates that one pound of dog hair can soak up one quart of oil in one minute! I have a new respect for my dogs' furballs.

 

We learned about this ingenious reuse program from two participants: Pet Paradise Resort, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based pet boarding, daycare and grooming operation, with 13 locations including several along the Gulf Coast; and Camp Bow Wow, a boarding and daycare operation with more than 200 franchisees in the U.S. and Canada. Both organizations are collecting and donating hair and fur to the effort, which won’t end with this spill. There are an estimated 2,600 oil spills each year.

 

Learn more about the program and witness hair mats in action in this video from Matter of Trust:

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Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com

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