© Courtesy Erin King
Ferrets, which are not rodents, have been domesticated for more than 2,000 years and are legal to own in every U.S. state except Hawaii and California. Some cities, such as New York City, ban them as pets.
This opportunity came about because of a young woman named Ariel Jasper who contacted the department in early 2014 to request that the ban on ferret ownership be reconsidered.
“I am not clear if the board will make a decision on the spot or if there will be a waiting period,” Jasper said. So, for now, all that can be done is to wait.
“The hearing went well,” Jasper said. “We had about eight speakers.”
“We all asked for the ban to be lifted and for ferrets to be prohibited from sale in pet stores,” Jasper said. “We also had an opportunity to speak with the head of animal and pest control about ferrets and their needs, as well as what owners face in terms of veterinary costs and malpractice. It was a good hearing with some passionate speakers.”
But comments from the public weren’t limited to the speakers present. Jasper said more than 90 positive comments were made on the NYC Rules website during the public comment period.
© Courtesy Ferret Club of NYC
Ariel Jasper (far right) attended the hearing on January 21 in New York City, along with (left to right) Isis Vera, David Gaines and Veronica Nizama.
Gaines said he attended the hearing to speak in favor of ferrets being legalized. He said he was there to present facts, not be emotional. He noted that the AFA is a subject-matter expert regarding ferrets. He said that, combined, the AFA membership has centuries of experience with ferrets, so its statements about ferrets bear great weight.
Although the representatives from the three other organizations at the hearing were not there specifically for the ferret issue, as the proposed rule also deals with other animal-related issues, all were fine with ferrets being legalized with the provision that they not be sold in pet stores. Additionally, Jennifer Riley of the NYC Bar Association also stipulated that ferrets should not be de-scented. The AFA also opposes de-scenting ferrets.
Jasper said that, “He spoke of ferrets in an inaccurate way and admitted he had no contact with ferrets.”
Now that the hearing is over, the public comment section has ended. In March, the information will be presented to the NYC Board of Health at a public hearing. People can attend to watch, but there is no opportunity to speak. The date and time for this hearing is not yet set.
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