Ferret Ban FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions About the New York City Ferret Ban

 

General Questions About NYC's Ferret Ban


Questions Related To Confiscation

 


General Questions About NYC's Ferret Ban

 

Q: How long have ferrets been illegal in New York City?

A: Ferrets have been illegal in New York City's five boroughs since June 29th, 1999.

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Q: Are ferrets illegal in all of New York State?

A: Ferrets are LEGAL in the rest of New York State. The ferret ban only applies to New York City's five boroughs.

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Q: Does "New York City" just mean "Manhattan?"

A: New York City is made up of five boroughs. Manhattan is one of them. The other four boroughs are Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

To paraphrase a post from issue 3128 of a popular Internet ferret mailing list, called "The FML":

You live in NYC if:

  • You live in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, or the Bronx.
  • You live in Bronx, Richmond, Kings, Queens, or New York County.
  • Your area code is 212, 347, 646, 718, 917, or 929.
  • Bill de Blasio is your mayor.

If any of these apply to you, you live in New York City's five boroughs, and ferrets are illegal where you live.

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Q: Is Long Island in New York City?

A: "Long Island" usually refers to Nassau and Suffolk counties, which are not in New York City. Ferrets are legal in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. There is a neighborhood in Queens called "Long Island City" which is different from "Long Island." Ferrets are illegal in Long Island City since it's a part of Queens, and Queens is one of NYC's five boroughs. Additionally, people sometimes confuse Long Island with Staten Island. Staten Island is one of New York City's five boroughs, and ferrets are also illegal there.

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Q: Where can I get a permit, so I can keep my ferret in New York City?

A: There used to be a permit required to own a ferret anywhere in New York State, but that requirement was removed in 1997. Permits are no longer required to own a ferret in New York State, but local municipalities (like New York City) may have different rules.

There is no permit available to own a pet ferret in NYC. Of course, some people have ferrets anyway and try to be discrete about it, but there is no legal way to own a pet ferret in New York City at this time.

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Q: What if I have PROOF that I've owned my ferret since before the ban?

A: There is no "Grandfather Clause" to NYC's ferret ban. Even ferrets that were owned prior to the ban are illegal.

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Q: I heard it's not illegal to HAVE a ferret in NYC, it's only illegal to SELL ferrets in NYC. Is that true?

A: It is illegal to sell ferrets in NYC, and it's illegal to have a pet ferret in NYC. It doesn't matter where or when you bought your ferret. Ferrets are not allowed in New York City's five boroughs.

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Q: If I live outside the city (where ferrets are legal) and I bring my ferret into the city for a visit, is that ok?

A: The ban states that ferrets are not allowed in the city limits, so even a visiting ferret can be confiscated. However, as a Non-NYC Resident, if your ferret is confiscated, you might be able to get it back if you act quickly, and can prove that you live outside NYC. (See below)

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Q: I live in Queens where ferrets are illegal, but two blocks away in Nassau County, ferrets are legal! How can that be?!

A: Incredible isn't it? If you live near a border of NYC, it's very possible for ferrets to be legal just a few blocks away, outside the City limits. Nassau County and Queens border each other. Ferrets are legal in Nassau County, but illegal in Queens, which is one of New York City's five boroughs. In some areas, houses actually span the border, so the front of a house may be in Queens (where ferrets are illegal), while the back of that same house may be in Nassau County, where ferrets are legal!

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Q: How about joining forces with an Iguana or Sugar Glider group, or any other group representing some of the other animals on the NYC Department of Health's banned animal list ?

A: Usually, when groups representing other banned animals contacted us to "join forces", they didn't have ideas or efforts of their own that they wanted us to join. They usually asked to be added to existing ferret legalization efforts, years after they'd been started, and it wasn't possible to insert or add other banned animals into ferret specific bills or lawsuits at that point, without starting all the way back at the beginning. If other groups had new efforts aimed at overturning the ban that looked promising, we'd have been happy to join in. In the past, we had links to several other sites for banned NYC animals, but unfortunately those sites no longer exist (an internet search might turn up links to newer sites if you're interested in learning more about their efforts).

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Questions Related To Confiscation

 

Q: How is the Department of Health enforcing the ban? Are they actively looking for ferret owners?

A: The Department of Health is not actively looking for ferret owners. They are not going door to door or going out of their way to find ferret owners. The ferret ban is "complaint driven." If someone files a complaint, and informs the Department of Health that you have ferrets (maybe a landlord, a neighbor, or an angry "ex" etc.) City Officials will be required to act. Additionally, health officials and police officers are instructed to confiscate ferrets if they see them (out in public etc.). Although we've heard of some police officers looking the other way, it's risky to assume all officials will be that way.

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Q: What do I do if authorities come to get my ferret?

A: If City Officials come to your door to confiscate your ferret, and they do not have a warrant, you do NOT have to let them in. No matter what they say, if there's no warrant DON'T let them in! Then, when they go away to get a warrant, get your ferrets out of your apartment and to safety before they come back.

The exception to this is if there is evidence of your ferret in plain sight, and officials can see it from where they are standing - like if your ferret runs up to greet them at the door, or if they can see a bag of ferret food, or your ferret's cage, through an open doorway or window. (- Or if someone in your home starts yelling "Quick! Hide the ferrets!") If officials can see evidence of your ferret or ferret related items, from where they're standing, they can come in without a warrant.

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Q: What happens to ferrets that are confiscated by the Police or DOH?

A: Ferrets that are confiscated by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Department of Health (DOH) and other official NYC agencies, are turned over to New York City's Animal Care & Control (Formerly known as New York City's "Center for Animal Care and Control" (CACC)), and generally arrive there in less than 3 hours. Most are then sent to shelters outside of NYC within a few days.

* Don't assume that ferrets sent to a shelter will be ok. Although there are many reputable ferret shelters and rescues, we unfortunately heard past reports of ferrets being sent to less reputable places.

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Q: What can I do if I live in NYC, and my ferret is confiscated?

A: If you live in NYC, and your ferret is confiscated, call the Department of Health immediately and ask to make arrangements for your ferret to be sent to a friend, relative, or other location, that is outside of New York City. It is better for YOU to find your ferret a new home with a non NYC friend or relative, than to leave your ferret's fate up to NYC's Animal Care and Control. You may also be required to pay a fine and related fees. It is very important that you act quickly to ensure the best possible outcome for your ferret.

Advice from NYC's AC&C:

"It’s always best to act quickly. AC&C shelters are set up for dogs and cats and other animals to stay for as short a time as possible. If an owner does not act quickly to claim his/her animal, it’s possible the animal may be transferred or sent to foster with a more appropriate organization. While owners are still able to claim their animals, it can take a bit longer and certainly all the moving around can be stressful for the animal."

To contact the NYC Department of Health, dial 311 from within NYC. If you're outside NYC, you can reach NYC's "311" by dialing (212) NEW-YORK

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Q: What can I do if I'm NOT a NYC resident, and my ferret is confiscated while visiting?

A: Even ferrets that are "just visiting" are not allowed in NYC's five boroughs. If your ferret is confiscated in NYC, and you are not a NYC resident, contact the AC&C immediately. You should be able to get your ferret back if you act quickly and can prove to AC&C that you are not a NYC resident. Proof of residency would include ID and a current utility bill or bank statement. You may also have to pay a fine and "Return to Owner" fees.

Advice from NYC's AC&C:

"It’s always best to act quickly. AC&C shelters are set up for dogs and cats and other animals to stay for as short a time as possible. If an owner does not act quickly to claim his/her animal, it’s possible the animal may be transferred or sent to foster with a more appropriate organization. While owners are still able to claim their animals, it can take a bit longer and certainly all the moving around can be stressful for the animal."

NYC's Animal Care and Control: Hours and Locations

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Q: If my ferret is confiscated, can I visit it while it's at AC&C and bring food, medications, and other supplies?

A: NYC's AC&C - On bringing supplies and visiting your ferrets:

"[Ferret owners] can certainly drop off supplies, however, visits are not generally permitted. Ferrets, and all animals not currently available for adoption to the public, are kept in areas of our buildings open to AC&C personnel only. In order to facilitate a visit, a staff member would have to accompany the owner, which is not realistic given we generally have about 250 animals to care for at any given time. For animals with special medical or dietary needs, we have an entire medical department who would oversee and ensure the required care."

Do bring food (with the brand name written on the bag or container), medication (with instructions), and supplies, to AC&C if your ferret has been confiscated. Ferrets can be very picky about their food when they're stressed. Going without food or medications for even one day can be dangerous and even fatal for some ferrets, so bring your ferret's foods and medications to AC&C the same day it's confiscated, even if it's after hours. Also consider bringing a t-shirt or sweatshirt that you've been wearing, for your ferret to sleep in. Bedding with your scent on it may help calm your ferret when it's in a strange place. Don't expect to get your shirt back, and let AC&C know that's ok, if they're reluctant to take it. It may even be possible for you to bring them a one level cage, fully set up with food, water, bedding, and a small hammock, and litterbox. (Not a large five story cage. Think along the lines of a rabbit cage. They might accept something around that size.) - Also, do ask if you can see your ferret. Although it's not regular policy, you never know if you'll be the exception.

NYC's Animal Care and Control: Hours and Locations

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Q: If I bring my ferret to the vet, will I be reported?

A: New York City ferret veterinarians are on OUR side. The New York City Veterinary Medical Association, the Animal Medical Center, and numerous individual ferret vets in New York City, have all testified at public hearings and in court on our behalf. Not one ferret vet in New York City has spoken against ferret legalization. Vets have nothing to gain by luring you in, just to turn you over to authorities. It makes more sense for them to say "I'm sorry, we don't treat ferrets anymore."

Speak to your vet, and their staff, if you have concerns. Don't let fear keep you from getting your ferrets proper veterinary care in NYC, - including regular checkups and annual vaccinations. Remember, the ferret vets in New York City are on OUR side.

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◄ More Information on How the Ban Started