The Ferret Club of New York City's 2014-2015 Ferret Legalization Efforts

Ferret Club of New York City logo Ariel Jasper (a member of The Ferret Club of New York City) wrote a letter to New York City's Mayor de Blasio, asking him to legalize domestic pet ferret ownership in NYC. News stations all over the globe picked up on the letter, and reported that the Mayor and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were receptive to the idea, and were considering overturning NYC's ferret ban.

How it Started

From the NYC Rules Website:

"Following the procedures described in Health Code §9.05, an individual petitioned the Board of Health to amend Article 161 to remove ferrets from the list of animals that cannot be kept in the City. By letter dated May 16, 2014, the Commissioner, as the Board’s Chairperson, granted the petition and responded that the Board would consider an amendment to legalize ferrets no later than December 2014."

Proposed Rule Changes to Health Code Article 161, to Legalize Ferrets in NYC

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene drafted a proposal to amend Article 161, to legalize ferrets in NYC, and presented it to the Board of Health at their December 9th 2014 meeting. Excerpts from the proposed amendments are below (a full copy can be found at the NYC Rules Website)

"This proposal would initiate the process of amending the Health Code and begin a public comment period on whether ferret ownership should be legalized."

"Health Code §161.01(b)(4) currently prohibits persons from harboring ferrets in New York City."

"The proposed amendment would remove the prohibition on keeping domestic ferrets as pets, but would require certain safeguards. The proposed amendment requires that these pets:

  • Be immunized against rabies in accordance with Health Code §11.29;
  • Be sterilized to prevent their reproduction, and
  • Be restrained when outdoors."

"The Department is also proposing that this provision be effective September 1, 2015, roughly six months after the expected adoption of this provision"

December 9th 2014 Board of Health Meeting

At the December 9th 2014 New York City Board of Health meeting, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene presented their proposed amendments to Article 161, to the Board of Health. The Board of Health agreed to open up a public commenting period on the proposed amendments, and the legalization of ferret ownership in NYC. A Public Hearing was scheduled for January 21st 2015.

Commenting Period and January 21st 2015 Public Hearing

Following the December 9th Board of Health meeting, the public was invited to submit comments on the proposed rule changes to Article 161 by mail, fax, online, or in person at the January 21st, 2015 Public Hearing. The comment period is now closed.

  • Comments and supporting documents that were submitted online can be viewed at the NYC Rules website until the new rules go into effect.
  • "All written comments and a summary of the oral comments received by the Department will be made available to the public within a reasonable period of time by the Departmentís Office of the General Counsel." - NYC Rules
  • January 21st 2015 Public Hearing video

New! NYC Board Of Health Decides not to lift Ferret Ban

On March 10th 2015, the New York City Board of Health decided not to lift NYC's ferret ban. Three Board of Health members voted in favor of lifting the ban, two voted against, and the rest abstained. Unfortunately, six votes were needed for the ban to be lifted.

Where to find more information


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