Scrap fabric once used to line surgical trays at Kaiser Permanente in Ontario, Calif., is now comforting adoptable dogs at nearby animal shelter

By Alison Schwartz
Updated June 22, 2010 11:45 AM

The West End Shelter for Animals in Ontario, Calif., used to line its dog kennels with sheets of newspapers. Pups would tear the paper to shreds, and the staff would be left with two messes: finding the dogs homes and picking up the pieces.

But one local hospital’s efforts to go green gave the dog kennels a much needed makeover – in the form of a blue, cloth-like fabric that the medical center normally disposed of on a weekly basis.

Since April, the Kaiser Permanente Ontario Vineyard Medical Center has put this scrap material to use at the shelter – 850 lbs. of it (and counting!). The West End folks pick up these plushy “wrappers,” which are used to line surgical trays, from the hospital each week. Once sanitized, this material becomes bedding for the hundreds of dogs at the no-kill, non-profit animal shelter.

“I think it’s more comfortable for [the dogs],” Shannon Cox, West End’s office manager tells “It’s a very stressful time for them. They’re often going from being in a home to a completely new environment when they first come in.”

And since it’s quite an upgrade from the messy, shredded newspaper the shelter had used previously, the new bedding is just as beneficial to the staff as it is to the pups. Cox says the dogs do notice the cozy addition to their kennels, which is the closest thing the animals have to a home until they are adopted. “They see the difference,” she says. “I think the newspaper felt dirty.”

The donation of the material is part of the medical center’s initiative to reduce its carbon foot print, and its “Go Green Team” is the brain – and heart – behind the operation.

“This area has been hit really hard with the loss of homes due to the economy,” Monty Bennett, the department administrator for the surgery center, says. “There are a lot of pets that are homeless. Anything we can do to contribute – we’re just glad to do.”

This project also means less trips to the landfill – the hospital throws away about 200 lbs. of the wrappers a week. But for Bennett it’s truly about the furry little friends who are just looking for a place to call home.

“Of all the initiatives, this one has really left a paw print on all of our hearts,” Bennett says. “Seeing the animals use the products, it really hits you.”