How The Ferret Ban Started
Dr. Taylor's Letter vs. the facts: 4 Li'l Paws response to Dr. Taylor comments


4 Li'l Paws Ferret Shelter
Merrimack, NH

Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999

In a message dated 9/4/99 8:55:46 AM, NYCFerrets writes:

1) Roughly how many ferrets does your shelter take in a month?

Until last year, we were the largest ferret shelter in NH, based on the number of ferrets that did come through the shelter. We were averaging about 100 ferrets a year. We have had no trouble placing them; average turn around time was about 3 months.
There have been no reports of feral ferrets.
Some of the found ferrets, appeared to be recent escapees, judging from there nails and coats, or were near death from starvation.

2) Roughly how many ferrets (on average) entering your shelter are "escaped or dumped" -i.e. Found outside as strays -vs- being handed over by the actual owners.

Found ferrets are a very small part of the turn-ins.
In fact we usually name the ferret after the town were they were found and have not had to repeat many names. Perhaps 1 - 4 per year were found;
average of less than 2 per year.

3) To the best of your knowledge, has legalization of ferrets in NH lead to an increase of escaped or dumped ferrets?

That's an obvious question. If ferrets were illegal before there were few or no ferrets to escape or be dumped. Since legalization there are more ferrets and therefore more ferrets to escape or to be dumped.
Is it a problem here? No. Occasionally we'll get a report about a found baby "ferret" that will turn out to be a weasel. So far, we've "rescued" three weasels and two mink.

4) How has the legalization of ferrets in NH (1993?) affected the following:

- Health of ferrets in NH

Major improvement in ferret health since legalization.
Vets are learning how to treat ferrets. Better ferret foods (like Totally Ferret) are now available across most of the state. Vaccination requirements are known and better followed.


- Temperament/socialization of ferrets in NH

There has been a major improvement in temperament/socialization simply because of better education of the owners.
Information is being supplied to vets, pet stores, and individuals on how to care for and train ferrets. We hold an annual Ferret Awareness Day outing in Merrimack every year, with one of the main emphasis being on education. This September 18 will be our fifth year doing this. We average about 700 - 1000 people attending from all over New England.


- Likelihood of ferrets being "dumped" or set loose in the state of NH

This was covered above.
Very small percentage and growing smaller.
We now have three licensed ferret shelters in the state and have taught the local Humane Societies how to care for ferrets so that some are now taking in ferrets along with dogs and cats.


- Bite incidents

Actually there are probably fewer reported bite incidents now that the rabies issue has been resolved (no statistics, just my impression). Prior to legalization and the new Compendium Recommendation, doctors were terrified of ferrets causing rabies. All ferret bites were treated as a rabies potential and people were reporting licks and scratches as bites. There is a much calmer approach now and I imaging that most people treat it like they would a scratch by a kitten or puppy - common and nothing to worry about.

*Any other comments on "pre" vs. "post" legalization of ferrets in NH?

All in all the legalization has been good for both the people and the ferrets.
We're seeing better care for the ferrets now that people can meet and talk with other ferret owners and vets learn more and more about them. People who couldn't own interactive pets before because of restrictions on time and living space are thoroughly enjoying their playful and affectionate pet ferrets. Ferrets don't bark to disturb the neighbors, kill birds or wildlife or otherwise make pests of themselves. Being spayed/neutered when sold means that we don't see the overpopulation problem that we have with dogs and cats. Ferrets make good neighbors.

5) Who do you consider to be the top ferret vets in your area? Is there a particular one that your shelter uses?

No question on that one.
Dr. Mike Dutton at Weare Animal Hospital 603-529-4999. He probably sees over 1000 ferrets a year in his practice, and has been treating ferrets for over 10 years. He's undoubtedly the most ferret knowledgeable vet in New England.
He loves ferrets. His staff loves ferrets. I know he'd be willing to write a letter for you.

6) Any comments on the quote:

"If it were possible to go back and prevent their legalization here in NH I would do it, despite the fact that individually I may enjoy them very much. "

I really wonder where he got his information. Some of it sounds like it's right out of the Kizer and Constantine report distributed by the State Public Health Department before ferrets were legalized and we got our quarantine laws.

Our club has attempted to contact him for his sources of information, particularly concerning the biting instances, but he has refused to accept or return any of our calls. I've been following the ferret issues here in NH since legalization.

The worst bite cases I've been able to track down were: a woman had her finger scratched when she stuck it in a cage full of kits a Band-Aid for her and three kits killed; a baby had a tiny scratch below one eye when a ferret climbed into her crib and caught a nail on her skin in the process. Both cases made headlines. No eyelids chewed off, no ears or noses bitten off.

Yet children are killed by pet dogs - one last year. These are largely ignored. Look at the J. J. Sacks paper ("Fatal Dog Attacks, 1989 - 1994;" Pediatrics, Vol 97 No. 6, June 1996) on deaths by dogs; an average of 18 people a year killed by dogs, many of them children and infants under the age of two. If everyone owned ferrets instead of dogs, these deaths wouldn't occur. By banning ferrets, NYC is forcing people to make a choice between dogs (who are proven to be a much greater risk to public health) or cats who are also proven to be a much greater risk not only to public health (Reported Cat Bites in Dallas..." John Wright; Public Health Reports, July-Aug 1990) but also to the environment.

7) Any other comments:

Let me know if I can be of any help.

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