Ferret lovers rejoice––New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is moving to lift the citywide ban on ferret ownership, a ban that in 1999 was instituted and heavily supported by Rudy Giuliani and upheld in court during the Bloomberg administration. This wouldn’t be de Blasio’s first move to make the city more animal-friendly. In fact, it comes closely on the heels of his recent push to protect the horses that work in Central Park.
During the 15 years that the ferret an has been in place, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has maintained that ferrets pose a risk to public safety due to unpredictable behavior and reports that they are prone to attacking humans. A possible repeal of the ban follows a petition from ferret enthusiasts who state that the current law on the books contains misinformation about the hazards of the tiny mammals.
The petition was started by Brooklyn College student Ariel Jasper. “I looked into the Health Code and I saw that they were labeled as wild, dangerous animals, and that confused me because ferrets have been domesticated for over 2,000 years,” Jasper told CNN. “They were actually domesticated before the cat.”
Department of Health officials stated earlier this week that they are going to recommend lifting the ban provided the new law contain certain spaying and vaccination requirements. The board, which is led by de Blasio’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, is scheduled to begin considering the proposed amendment by the end of the summer. Bassett said they will start with a public hearing and comment period, followed by a Board of Health vote.
Ferrets are currently legal in 48 states, included the state of New York. City health officials conceded that after a survey of jurisdictions that allow ferret ownership they had found very little to be concerned about. In an internal memo they stated that “evidence shows ferrets do not bite more frequently or severely than other pets the same size.” As a con to the argument, they said that “there may be injuries, especially to infants.” Surely, as with any other type pets––big or small––parents will be able to prevent these potential injuries.
If the ferret ban is overturned, the furry creatures will get to leave the current list of illegal pets in New York City, which includes potbellied pigs, hedgehogs, iguanas, and elephants. Despite de Blasio’s animal loving tendencies, we have a feeling the elephant ban won’t be lifted anytime soon.
To learn more about ferrets, click here.