Past Legalization Efforts
Council Member Kathyrn Freed's Bill to Legalize Ferrets
Kathryn Freed's Press Release for the 5/9/01 vote


Kathryn E. Freed
51 Chambers Street, Room 429, New York, NY 10007

Phone: 212/788-7722            Fax: 212/788-7727

Representing: SoHo, NoHo, TriBeCa, Washington Square area, South Village, Battery Park City, Wall Street, South Street seaport, City Hall area, Little Italy, Chinatown, LowerEast Side

Evan Greenstein, (212) 788-7722
May 9 , 2001



Council Overrides Health Department Despite Heavy Lobbying by Mayor



Council Contracts Chair Kathryn E. Freed (D-1st District) today cheered Council approval of her bill which allows the possession and sale of ferrets within the City for the first time since 1999, when the Health Department issued an administrative rule barring the furry animals. Council Members voted in favor of the bill, Int. 627A, despite pressure from Mayor Giuliani to oppose it.

"The Mayor should sign this bill to protect the interests of all ferret owners, who are now unfairly classified as outlaws by the City," said Freed, the Council animal maven who has been pushing this bill since the Health Department issued the ban two years ago. "Ferrets are an ideal choice for people with allergies, particularly for children who are sensitive to dogs and cats, these furry creatures offer children an equal opportunity to have a loving pet."

Ferrets, which are currently legal in 48 states, including New York, are also extremely popular in Europe and are the number one pet in Japan. According to statistics from the early 1990's, when they were legal in New York City, there were only 7 bites per 10,000 ferrets, while there were at least 81 bites per 10,000 dogs. A continued prohibition on ferret ownership would probably prevent owners from seeking proper veterinary care for their pets, which will likely spread disease quicker. The experts note that the US Department of Agriculture-approved rabies vaccine for ferrets has the same efficacy as that in dogs and cats.

"The statistics show that ferrets are even safer than dogs and cats," said Freed, the owner of three felines herself. "These animals have been domesticated longer than Cats. In fact, ferrets are classified as domestic animals by the USDA, the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History. These are not wild, untamed animals." Freed's bill has been endorsed by the ASPCA, the Animal Medical Center, the Humane Society of New York and the New York City Veterinary Medical Association.

The Mayor's Office has engaged in unprecedented intense lobbying of Council Members to uphold the Health Department's ban. Mayor Giuliani's Office of Legislative Affairs has TWICE faxed Council Members a one page sheet entitled, "Talking Points Against the Legalization of Ferrets in New York City." This sheet contains basically bogus statistics and even an alleged oft repeated story about a 22 month old child who was supposedly attacked by a ferret. Lately, the Council has overridden several Giuliani vetoes on bills, including Freed's Anti-Sweatshop law and another which requires City Contractors to follow the Human Rights Law. He appears to be afraid that the Council will challenge him on yet another issue, where the Mayor seems to be out of step with average New Yorkers.

"While the Mayor holds press conferences blasting the City Council for wasting time talking about ferrets, he has his staff working overtime to lobby people to vote against this," said Freed. "I call on the Mayor to look at the facts and see that ferrets are relatively harmless creatures. He should sign this bill without delay."



<-- More information on the May 9, 2001 vote.

<-- More information on Kathryn Freed's bill to legalize ferrets