A Tibetan terrier named Misty is groomed by Kirsten Krause at the End of the Leash in Mukwonago. The hair from about 60 dogs groomed at the pet store during the past week will be donated so it can be used in material being made to absorb some of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett of the Journal Sentinel
The fur is flying in Wisconsin as people and pets team up to stop the massiveDeepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill from reaching shore. And no, this is not a shaggy dog story.
Local pet groomers are among the leaders of a national drive to collect more than 400,000 pounds of dog fur to make hair booms and hair mats to capture and contain the oil slick.
In the spirit of World War II scrap metal drives, Matter of Trust, a California-based ecological charity (www.matteroftrust.org), began the campaign to gather dog fur that will be machine-woven into mats or stuffed into barriers called “booms” to contain the oil.
Wisconsin dog-lovers grabbed the idea and ran with it. One West Bend groomer is credited with getting PETCO pet stores nationwide to join the furry oil-fight. According to Jennifer Modrow, manager of PETCO in West Bend: “It all started with my grooming manager, Danielle Soine, who had seen a news article about this and contacted me and said ‘I want to do this.’ I e-mailed the Wisconsin district stores, my district got involved, and it snowballed into all the stores nationally getting involved in the program.”
Individual local pet groomers are also swept up in the fur collection effort. The End of the Leash pet boutique in Mukwonago will ship out at least 100 pounds of dog fur to a Matter of Trust collection point near the Gulf this week.
Michele Tegen, the shop’s owner, says: “We heard about the opportunity to send hair last week and some of our grooming clients had come in and talked to our groomers and we immediately said we have to be a part of this. I looked into Matter of Trust and signed up with them, and that’s what got the ball rolling.”
Dog fur has several properties that make it the perfect oil-slick fighter. The fur is made up of fibers that naturally absorb oil. And dogs manufacture it for free. Although human hair also works for the containment devices, dog fur works best because its oil-attracting fibers are easily collected in bulk. Once the fur is shipped to Matter of Trust, it’s machine woven into mats or stuffed into nylons to make “hair sausages” – ugly but reusable.
What breed is the best candidate for an anti-oil donation? Any pooch can participate, says Kirsten Krause, a groomer at End of The Leash. “A Great Pyrenees is good because it weighs about 150 pounds and will give a kitchen trash bag full of hair, about three pounds. But little dogs help, too, over time. We’re putting all the fur aside.”
So far two dogs at End of the Leash are becoming known for as major fur donators, says Krause: “Polly the Pyrenees and Bailey the Bichon.”
Human customers are eager to participate in the furry collection. Dennis Kranz, owner of Puppy Love groomers in East Troy, is also collecting fur to ship and says: “We’re mentioning it to the people and everyone is thrilled. Nobody usually thinks about where does my dog’s hair end up, and we’re glad it’s going to this work.”
Says Krause: “One lady said it made her want to cry to use her dog’s hair for the oil spill. It’s really touching people.”
One group, however, remains relatively immune to the fur fervor. “Cat hair doesn’t work because we don’t see many cats getting shaved at the groomers and we don’t get enough of their fur,” said Tegen.