Smokey the Rabbit, Others Adopted by Locals

Cages full of active critters once filled the front windows of Hohl Feed and Seed, where mice, gerbils, and hamsters scampered on squeaky wheels. When a devastating fire destroyed the building in February, more than 70 animals, ranging from birds to bunnies, were rescued by the Bellingham Fire Department.

But what to do with them?

Bellingham area residents had an answer, and it took hardly any time for the community, and the local humane society, to take action. Within weeks, many of the Hohl’s animals had found their forever homes.

The morning of the fire, a former 15-year Hohl employee, David Parker, sped to the scene and recognized a familiar face in the back of a Whatcom Humane Society vehicle. It was a small greyish brown rabbit he’d thought about adopting in previous visits.

“When the store burned down, I was like, ‘I have to get that rabbit,’” Parker said.

The rabbit, who’s been christened “Smokey,” has found her place among Parker’s self described “zoo” of animals at home. She has also become a familiar whiskered face at Bellingham Ace Hardware, where Parker works as assistant manager. Smokey has earned a fair bit of fame among customers, which Parker plans to use as a learning opportunity at special events.

“I figured this was a good opportunity to teach people about environmentally responsible pesticides and herbicides, and gardening in general, because nobody wants to hurt a rabbit,” Parker says. “[Smokey] will be the ambassador for Ace Hardware to incorporate those ideas into our store.”

As for the other animals, the majority were adopted from the Whatcom Humane Society in a special event held at the beginning of March. Kathryn Miller, a soon-to-be Western Washington University student, adopted two friendly rats and gave them dessert-themed names, Cannoli and Donut.

Miller and her boyfriend had been considering pets for a while. When they heard about the Hohl’s fire, they knew it was time. The two were near the front of the line at the humane society’s adoption event in March, which attracted around 200 people, said Laura Clark, the humane society’s executive director.

Thanks to an outpouring of community support, Clark suspects the remaining animals will find their forever homes quickly. If you want to adopt an animal, contact Whatcom Humane Society at

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"Within weeks, many of the Hohl’s animals had found their forever homes."