'Fur' a good cause: Beaufort salons, pet spas pitch in to help Gulf oil spill cleanup

May 16, 2010 

Groomer Michael Moreira shaves Marris, a golden labradoodle, at Beaufort Dog on Thursday afternoon. The business is donating all hair clippings to the clean up effort in the Gulf Coast.

JONATHAN DYER | THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE

Labradoodle Lucy trotted into Beaufort Dog with inches of unkempt, matted fur on her petite chocolate frame.

Ninety minutes later, a soaking wet Lucy emerged from a tub furiously shaking off water, shaved and groomed for a short trip back to her owner.

Her fur awaits a much longer trip.

The bag with Lucy's fur will travel almost 1,000 miles to the Louisiana coast as part of an effort to soak up remains from last month's devastating oil spill.

"When she came in here, Lucy was this wide," said groomer Kelly Schneider, dramatically holding her hands apart. "They come in here with just so much hair on them."

Giving hair, both animal and human, is one way local businesses are pitching in to help the Gulf Coast areas affected by the spill. Hair quickly soaks up oil and can be reused once the oil is wrung out.

"If we weren't doing this with the hair, we'd just be throwing it all way," Beaufort Dog owner Kelley Blackston said. "It's a natural way to give back to those who are in need on the Gulf Coast."

Blackston takes her fur to Lime Lite Salon, a hair salon leading the donation efforts for Beaufort. Lime Lite has called every salon and dog groomer in Beaufort asking for hair, said owner David Watson. He's seen a

big response.

"We've gotten about 10 pounds of hair already this week," he said. "That may not sound like a lot, but that's a lot of hair."

After watching CNN, Watson decided it would be the least Lime Lite could do to help with the oil crisis. He signed up the salon with Matter of Trust, a San Francisco environmental nonprofit organization.

Matter of Trust turns the hair remains from thousands of salons across the country into oil mats and booms for cleanup efforts. The organization has posted videos on its website, and its efforts have received national media attention.

The project started this week at Beaufort Hair after owner Blackston heard about the efforts of other salons. Beaufort Dog trims about 30 dogs per week, leaving pounds of hair on the floor every day.

Most of the cuts in May are shave-downs, Blackston said, as owners try to prepare their dogs for the humid summer months. That means more hair to cut.

But the staff doesn't seem to mind.

"Not only do I get to make the dogs feel better, it helps ecology, people and biodiversity in Louisiana," said groomer Katelyn Peterman. "It absolutely is exciting."

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