Rescuers use dish soap to save oil-slicked animals in California

The International Bird Rescue in San Pedro is doing remarkable work for animals and the environment

SAN PEDRO, Calif. - The Dawn Duck has cared for wildlife for 45 years, dating back to the oil spill in South Carolina in the early 80s.

"At the time, no one knew what to do with oiled animals and no idea how to clean them. In fact, in the early days they used kerosene, mineral oil, all these things that actually caused additional damage and ruined feathers," said JD Bergeron of International Bird Rescue.
The International Bird Rescue was after a product that’s effective, affordable and accessible.

"We actually chased Dawn for a long time to convince them that this quality of their product was valuable not just for dishes but we had been using it on birds," said Bergeron.

So much so, the non-profit often brings bottles of backup to oil spill responses across the globe.

Dawn has helped rescue 150,000 animals and on World Wildlife Day just committed to saving 1 million more by 2030.  

"In the work that we do we are constantly on the verge of potential bankruptcy because the work is expensive and there’s always more need. This gives us some runway to actually make more courageous decisions," said Bergeron.

It means a second chance for locals like this pied-billed grebe out of Long Beach and double-crested cormorant from Venice, both debilitated after swallowing fishing hooks.

Each patient gets a comprehensive exam.

"This gives rehabbers a sense of our successes when we do release birds."

Success is easily measured by watching a once suffering soul become free again.