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Dogs lend fur to gulf cleanup

Jackie Danforth holds Sunny, a toy poodle, as she makes a phone call while her business partner Jeff Brawn grooms a miniature Schnauzer at Mutt & Jeff's Grooming in Orrington Wednesday, May 5, 2010. They collect the fur they cut from the dogs and send it out to a company in Fort Myers, Florida that uses it in oil spill containment booms. "This is something we have done since we opened in October of 2009. We have to make sure that the fur we send out is free of dirt. Our customers know that we save the fur and send it out and people are supportive of the idea," Danforth said. BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY GABOR DEGRE
By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

ORRINGTON, Maine — Jessie, a newly coifed Australian shepherd, walked out of Mutt and Jeff’s Grooming on Route 15 Wednesday knowing he’d done his part to help with the cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“When I finished brushing him down, I told him, ‘You’re helping in a really good cause,”’ said Jackie Danforth, who owns Mutt and Jeff’s with her partner, Jeffrey Brawn.

All of the hair they clipped from Jessie, and from the other dogs they groom at their shop, is being shipped to Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that converts pet and human hair into oil absorbent mats and booms. The donated hair from around the country is being sent to volunteers in the Gulf Coast area to be made into oil absorbent booms.

Oil continued to leak from the wreck of a deepwater oil rig that exploded on April 20 and sank two days later. Eleven workers are presumed dead as a result of the explosion.

Officials from BP said workers had capped one of three leaks at the well on Tuesday night, a step that will not cut the flow of oil but will make it easier to deal with the remaining leak. Oil is spewing from the well into the ocean at an estimated rate of 200,000 gallons per day.

Mutt and Jeff’s started saving clippings for Matter of Trust as a way to help the environment, well before the gulf oil spill became a problem.

“We’ve been doing it since we opened,” according to Brawn and Danforth, who opened the shop in October.

Danforth said she saw a reference to Matter of Trust on a grooming bulletin board and thought it was a good idea, so they signed up. Danforth said they’re pleased to be a part of the effort.

“You know it benefits the environment,” she said. “And think about all that hair going to waste.”

Hair, including human hair, has effective oil-absorbing qualities, it seems.

“Simply put, we shampoo because hair collects oil,” said Lisa Craig Gautier, executive director of Matter of Trust in a press release this week. “It soaks up skin oils, grabs oil from the pollution in the air, and it can soak up petroleum in oil spills.”

This week, according to the organization’s website, more than 400,000 pounds of hair, fur and wool, donated from all 50 states and from other countries, is being shipped to volunteers in the Gulf Coast areas. The booms are made by stuffing donated nylon stockings with hair from animals or humans. The stuffed nylons are dou-bled up to create “highly absorbent” booms to contain and soak up oil spills, according to the website.

Volunteers through the Gulf Coast area host “Boom B Q” parties to assemble the hair and stocking booms, often in their own backyards, according to the press release.

“Volunteers are building booms on site hoping to hold off the encroaching oil slick,” the organization said in a press release this week.

In addition to the hair-made booms, Matter of Trust has worked with textile factories using a nonwoven needlepoint technique to create hair mats that also can be used for oil spills and for oiled bird and mammal cages, according to Matter of Trust’s website.

Matter of Trust is using a donor database to coordinate its efforts and to notify donors of where to send their donations of hair to make sure the nylons and hair go to the area in the gulf that needs it most.

For more information about Matter of Trust or to donate clippings, visit

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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