Built in 1873, The Corner Bar in Rockford, Michigan was the oldest building in the small town. Known for its “Hot Dog Hall of Fame” the names of people who consumed a great number of the bar’s famous chili dogs were inscribed on the wall. A tradition since 1935, the current amateur winner, Belinda, consumed 43-1/2 chili dogs in 2005!
Unfortunately, all that changed on August 14, 2017, when a devastating fire nearly burned the bar to the ground. The blaze began when a dumpster fire triggered a gas explosion and took 2 days for firefighters to extinguish! Fortunately, the names of the Hall of Fame winners had been digitized by Rockford High School students, and the owners pledged to rebuild and restore the wall.
There was a more urgent issue discovered in the debris however.
After the fire, concerned citizens began to contact the bar’s owners, reporting that a kitten was seen in the rubble. Staffers agreed that they could not risk hurting the kitten during demolition, so a manager contacted a local rescue group.
Carol’s Ferals is a TNR (trap/neuter/return) organization located near Rockford in Grand Rapids, MI. Their mission is to reduce feline overpopulation in West Michigan through community education and empowerment.
A bartender was dispatched to pick up an animal trap and was taught the basics of live trapping. The trap was set, and on October 7th the kitten was captured. The Corner Bar updated their worried following Facebook audience stating “He/she is comfortably situated at Carol’s Ferals where experts are evaluating this cutie’s condition. We’ll keep you posted but please in the meantime, consider supporting Carol’s Ferals with a donation of supplies or money. They were invaluable in helping us save this tiny fur baby.”
A dark, dusky gray, the rescued female kitten was named Smokey.
Everyone who knew of Smokey wanted to adopt her. As fate would have it, Smokey found a home with Matthew Van Dyken, a firefighter who assisted in battling the inferno. When the bar had begun posting on social media that there was a kitten spotted in the rubble, he got in touch and asked about adopting the feline. He and his wife had unfortunately recently lost their cat, Ash, to cancer and the two immediately bonded with Smokey.
With the assistance of compassionate and dedicated citizens, not only will the beloved establishment rise from the ashes, but a tiny kitten was given a chance at life. Smokey is doing wonderfully in her new home and even has a canine sibling too!
The Corner Bar is being rebuilt and even construction crews onsite prove this community is FULL of animal lovers. Although there is no date set yet, when the landmark reopens they will be sponsoring a fundraiser for Carol’s Ferals. No doubt the star of the show will be Smokey (in a carrier, of course!)
For donations, fostering and more information on their organization, please visit Carol’s Ferals @ http://www.carolsferals.org/