THE hair of the dog has long been touted as a fool-proof remedy, but it has never been used to deal with a multi-million-barrel oil slick.
Now three dog-groomers from south Oxfordshire are bagging up the trimmings from their canine clients and sending them to the Gulf of Mexico, where they will be used to help soak up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Jane Allum, Mel Parker and Mandie Sherrell, of Pooch Mobile, are sending the dog hair to the American charity Matter Of Trust, which is using both human and animal hair to aid clean-up efforts.
The charity is stuffing hair into tights and weaving it into dense mats, which can then be used to soak up oil still leaking from BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which blew up and sank in April, killing 11 workmen and discharging millions of barrels of crude oil into the sea.
Environmentalists believe it could soon become the worst oil disaster in US history, destroying the habitats of hundreds of species.
Hair salons across the world are already taking part in the initiative, which was publicised through Facebook.
Mrs Allum, who grooms dogs in Wallingford, said she was collecting several carrier bags full of dog hair each week, and posting them to the USA.
She added: “My mum heard about it on Facebook, and really thought I should be involved.
“We all thought that for the sake of an incident like this, we should all try to do our bit to help.
“Usually the hair gets thrown away, but now, whenever we brush or trim a dog, we are bagging the hair and sending it off.
“We each do about 15 or 20 dogs a day. At the moment I’ve got a whole carrier bag full of hair from the last two days.”
She added: “Most of our clients have been really surprised. Nobody could ever imagine that dog hair could be put to any use like that. I didn’t know either.
“Obviously, I knew dog hair attracts oil, but I never thought it could be used like this.”
BP says one fifth of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is being collected by a bypass pipe.
The company and the US Coast Guard have estimated about 210,000 gallons are gushing out each day, although scientists who have studied video of the leak said it could be much bigger. They said underwater plumes of oil could damage the area for decades.
BP’s attempts to stop the leak, including trying to activate emergency valves and lowering a 100-ton container over the top, have so far failed.