PETA honors Lacey firefighters who saved hamsters

Last week, the Lacey Fire Department saved some of the city’s smallest residents, prompting a big thank you from animal rights activists.

Firefighters rescued a family of hamsters -- two adults and several babies -- from a Lacey mobile home fire Sept. 26. Battalion Chief Tim Hulfe said that firefighters extinguished the fire quickly and searched the home for pets after determining that no human residents were in harm’s way.

The adult hamsters recovered quickly with the help of oxygen, but one of the babies died, Hulfe said.

Word of the firefighters’ efforts reached national media, and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) activists read the story in the New York Daily News on Monday.

Stephanie Jaffa, a PETA spokeswoman, said members of the organization were touched by the firefighters’ caring attitudes and decided that the department was worthy of an award.

“They really set a great example for everyone,” Jaffa said. “We wanted to spread the word because we love hearing stories about this type of kindness.”

PETA typically presents about 30 such awards nationwide each year, Jaffa said. But this is the first award given to a department for saving hamsters.

"(The Lacey Fire Department’s) kindness and quick thinking meant the difference between life and death for these hamsters — and it was surely a relief to the hamsters' family that their companions were saved," said Senior Director Colleen O'Brien. "PETA hopes the department's actions will encourage first responders across the country to keep an eye out for the smallest family members."

Hulfe said that as far as he knew, this was the first time the department had saved a family of hamsters, although Lacey firefighters rescue several dogs and cats each year. He said firefighters routinely search homes for pets once human residents are safe and fires are under control.

“I think this is officially my first hamster,” Hulfe said.

Jaffa said PETA is sending the Lacey Fire Department a framed certificate and a basket of vegan cookies.