How The Ferret Ban Started
Dr. Taylor's Letter vs. the facts: Letter to Dr. Taylor from "Ferret Services of Freedom"


August 22, 1999

Barry N. Taylor, DVM
Franklin Veterinary Clinic
39 Hill Road
West Franklin, NH 03235

RE: NY Ban on Ferrets

Dear Dr. Taylor:

I do not usually write letters in response to issues such as this, but this is an issue very close to my heart and I hope you will take the time to read this letter, as it is not done in condemnation.

I read with interest your letter regarding your stand on ferrets. You begin by stating you have been a vet for 15 years and I am very pleased to hear that you treat ferrets at your practice. Any vet who is willing to treat ferrets and learn about them is a valued vet, and one that I give much praise and respect.

You state, however, that a ferret may be a wonderful pet, as could a tiger cub. I believe there is a huge difference between a ferret and a tiger cub and your analogy is curious.


As for ferrets escaping, it is not a common occurrence.
Most ferret owners are very cautious about their ferrets escaping. It is very common knowledge that one must "ferret proof" a house or room before getting a ferret. Regarding your statement that dozens show up in local shelters all the time, it is my understanding that most humane societies do not want to deal with ferrets. As for ferret shelters, there are presently three in NH and these three shelters deal exclusively with the domestic ferret.
In relation to the total amount of ferrets taken in, a very small percentage have been found loose,
as compared to the number of ferrets turned in because their owners tired of them.

I have recently received a newsletter from an organization in Connecticut that states that a family of mink was mistaken for ferrets. From what I understand, no one has been able to substantiate your statement that there are feral colonies of ferrets in Connecticut. Could these mink be the "feral ferrets" you are referring to? As a ferret shelter operator, I have not seen many unaltered ferrets. The majority of ferrets are purchased in a pet store and these ferrets have been altered by the breeder before shipment. Being a veterinarian, you must have access to books such as Biology & Diseases of the Ferret, by James G. Fox, edition one and two, and Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents by Hillyer & Quesenberry. Both books discuss the difficulty in breeding ferrets and the many complications that can occur. It is not possible in the United States for these pets, domestic ferrets, to survive in the wild and become feral. Their hunting instincts are all but extinct. If a ferret does kill a small animal, it is usually because it is trying to play with it and it is too rough. Cats are far more dangerous to small animals and birds and they populate readily.

Regarding your statement about ferrets and rabies, considerable studies have been conducted on this issue. There is an approved vaccine available for ferrets, as you are aware. The fact that there is an approved vaccine, licensed for use on ferrets, tells us that ferrets have been considered as pets for a long time.

I note your paragraph on the interaction with infants. Any animals’ interaction with infants bothers me--whether it is a cat, dog, puppy, kitten, ferret, or other pet. This is where parental responsibility and common sense should come in to play.

Another reason I am writing is to invite you to visit our shelter and see for yourself the number of abandoned, unwanted animals. These animals have done nothing wrong. We care for them and provide for them until they are either adopted out or they pass on. We are a no-kill shelter. Where will all these suddenly-illegal ferrets in NYC go? There are no shelters that will take them. They may be abandoned on the streets, or taken to humane societies that have no experience in their special needs and maintenance. At any rate, many, many ferrets will die.

We have found that ferrets are high-stress animals. They do not adjust well to change of any sort, including food, home, water, owners. If their food is changed on them, they will starve themselves rather than eat a different brand. They are prone to stomach ulcers and diseases from stress.
They are sensitive little creatures that are highly intelligent and curious. On the other hand, they have a playful nature that is a wonderful stress-reducer for us human beings after a tough day at work. They are very loving and bond with their owners and each other.
They are excellent pets for someone who lives in a city and space is limited, and they do not make any noise. They are quite popular in Japan! I would urge you to reconsider your letter regarding your position on ferrets.


Finally, for any veterinarian, keeping up with the latest in veterinary medicine for ferrets must be particularly challenging and frustrating. Not a lot is known as compared to cats and dogs. In order to become familiar with the latest in ferret care, vets must travel many miles and spend many dollars. Since ferrets do not make up a huge chunk of their practice, most vets in NH will not pursue this. We work very closely with Steve Caffrey of the Fryeburg Veterinary Hospital in Fryeburg, Maine. He is concerned about the number of ferrets his practice sees that have serious illnesses. He, too, is frustrated by the lack of ferret medical information available on a local basis. He has indicated an interest in attending a local conference on ferret medicine, if it can be provided. Is this anything that would interest you? I would be very happy to research holding a ferret medicine veterinarian conference here in the state of New Hampshire if there is enough interest.

I hope this letter has not offended you and I hope you will read it in its entirety. If you are able to respond, it would be appreciated. We want to help you with regard to ferrets and not burden you.


Stephanie Mudgett

Ferret Services of Freedom

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