When it come to humans, Los Angeles-based interior designer Kari Whitman’s client list can certainly be described as A-list. She’s created spaces for Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Emilio Estevez, and other stars, but the dogs she’s creating new futures for are far from famous. As the founder of Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue, Whitman saves unwanted pups from death row.
“I just pulled four dogs today, a Pointer and her puppy, and a couple little Terriers,” she explains during an interview she managed to squeeze into an already jam-packed schedule. “They were all going to die today.”
Those dogs now join the thousands who have been saved through Ace of Hearts over the years. Whitman’s rescue has given many animals the gift of a future, and her skills as a designer are helping to fund the rescue of even more pets thorough her eco-friendly dog bed line, Greener Pup.
Whitman says using dogs beds to fund dog rescue was an idea that evolved from a request she received frequently during her interior design work.
“A lot of my clients were asking me to make custom beds for their house that match the rooms,” she says.
After realizing the appetite for quality dog beds amongst her clients, Whitman launched the non-profit Greener Pup five years ago while working with a similarly eco-minded celebrity.
“I started Greener Pup when I was doing Jessica Alba’s house,” she explains. “I wanted to make her some really cool dog beds.”
After incorporating the eco-friendly bed design into the star’s home, Whitman quickly expanded on the project, sourcing recycled materials to make her Greener Pup beds as green as possible.
“The inside of the bed is filled with recycled plastic bottles,” says the designer, who uses a technique similar to a cotton candy machine to turn the plastic into fluffy bedding. “We use anywhere from 100 to 150 plastic bottles that would have been dumped in the landfills.”
Using plastic as a stuffing material is not only good for the environment, it’s also good for the dogs. The plastic is hypoallergenic, so dogs don’t get itchy. Whitman says dust mites and fleas can’t live on it either.
While the inside of the beds are stuffed with plastic, the outside of the beds feature high-end fabric seconds, which also would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.
“The earth fabric is our signature fabric, and all the other fabrics are unique fabrics donated by fabric companies. You can choose your own cover,” says Whitman. “We just get whatever we get, and it sells out.”
The production of the beds extends the life of the the recyclable materials, while the purchase of them extends the life of shelter dogs. Every cent of Greener Pup’s profits funds Ace of Hearts. The rescue organization — created in the memory of Whitman’s own rescue dog, Ace — focuses on rescuing shelter dogs scheduled for euthanasia.
“L.A. has the highest kill rate in the country: 500 dogs a day,” says Whitman.
The profits from the Greener Pup dog beds are helping Ace of Hearts save dogs slated for euthanasia by moving them out of shelters and into loving foster homes until their forever homes are found.
“When you purchase a bed, you get a letter saying where the money goes,” Whitman explains. “Usually it’s about one particular dog.”
The organization typically has about 70 dogs in foster care. Some of the dogs need a lot of care, including special medical needs.
Whitman’s own dog, Hank the Tank, is one of the ones with special needs. The 165-pound Mastiff moves with the help of a cart. He requires a great deal of care and attention, which is why he is her only dog.
Hank is certainly a big boy, but Whitman and the rest of the team at Ace of Hearts are used to dealing with larger-breed dogs. “We specialize in American Bulldogs because Ace was American Bulldog-Staffordshire mix,” she explains.
Whitman obviously has a soft spot in her heart for larger bully breeds, but her beds are giving breeds of all sizes a soft place to rest. According to the Greener Pup website, her company wants all dogs to get a good night sleep, regardless of their family’s financial status. That’s why Greener Pup offers a 20-percent discount to dog owners receiving government assistance. Greener Pup’s website also offers 25 percent off to dog owners purchasing a bed for a rescue dog.
Through Greener Pup, Whitman is helping plenty of dogs get the best sleep of their lives, and through Ace of Hearts, she’s helping rescue dogs find new lives. Her stylish efforts to save the environment while saving dogs make Whitman a hero to people and pups alike.
Meet more Dogster Heroes:
About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.