Ferrets Legalized in Washington, D.C.
While ferrets are legal in the majority of the United States, there are still places where keeping a furry thief as a pet is not allowed. These include the states of California and Hawaii, and some cities, the largest of which are New York City and Washington, D.C.
These bans are mostly based on misinformation and unfounded fears. California classifies the ferret as a wild animal and the Fish & Game Commission claims that ferrets could escape, create colonies, and become an invasive species. (Ferrets have been domesticated for at least 2,000 years, most pet ferrets are neutered/spayed, and ferrets have a hard time surviving in the wild.) In New York, Rudy Giuliani banned ferrets in 1999 because he believed they carry rabies and attack children. (Dogs do both in much, much larger numbers than ferrets.) Most rationalizations for banning ferrets are ridiculous at best and dishonest fear-mongering at worst. As a result, ferret owners in these areas are at risk of having their beloved pets taken away from them.
In April, the District of Columbia city code was quietly changed to include ferrets in a list of acceptable pets. While D.C. made this change without fanfare (I was unable to find a press release or any kind of announcement from the city on this change), it’s sure to have some effect on the few cities still holding out on legalizing ferrets. Our fuzzbutts can live safely, happily, and legally in the nation’s capitol. It’s time for the rest of the country to stop criminalizing ferret ownership.
Thank you to Washington Metro Area Ferret Outreach for bringing this change to our attention!