Nancy Bardwell Sevier began her ferret rescue and shelter during Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans had the only shelter at that time, and Katrina’s impact took it away for a while, but it’s back in operation. “Thank goodness she is back up now!” Sevier said.
The Fuzzie Friends Organization Rescue and Shelter is not as large as some ferret shelters. “Since 2005,” Sevier said, “there have been approximately 300 ferrets that have come through and either found their ‘furever’ home, stayed here or have gone to the Rainbow Bridge.”
Currently, the shelter houses 20 ferrets, all permanent residents. “Due to age or illness, no one wants to adopt them here in northwest Louisiana or the three states surrounding,” Sevier said. It is unusual for Fuzzie Friends not to have adoptables, and this could change at any moment.
The adoption process for Fuzzie Friends includes filling out a six-page application. One key question is asking what veterinarian the ferret will be taken to. The form also gives tips about ferret care. “I also do a home visit to make sure they are ready for their new ‘family member.’”
Bringing Happiness To Ferrets
One of Sevier’s most rewarding and successful stories is the ferret named Toast, a burn victim. “He came from Texas after some ‘men’ set him on fire,” Sevier said. “He is now better! He is one of the happiest ferrets I have ever had. He is also one of my Certified Therapy Ferrets, as I have five.”
Toast not only survived being burned, he’s also had three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. “The last surgery there were three tumors, and the doc said, ‘Maybe this will give him a few more months with you.’ Those words are so hard to hear. He is the ‘ambassador’ to my shelter.”
Sevier urges any new or potential ferret owner to educate themselves about ferrets. “Get the book Ferrets For Dummies,” she said. “Then join some of the groups on Yahoo, as there are so many and you can get great info and support from the people there. Another good thing would be to help/volunteer at a ferret shelter.” Sevier said that if people volunteer at a ferret shelter before getting a ferret, they can experience what goes into the daily needs of ferrets. She also advises people to find a ferret-savvy veterinarian, “Make sure you have a vet that actually knows ferrets,” she said. “Not all vets do.”
Meeting The Ferrets’ Needs
The most important needs of the Fuzzie Friends shelter right now are payments to the vet for continued veterinarian care. It also needs ferret supplies including food, litter and paper towels. Another key ingredient for the shelter’s success is having volunteers who come in once a week to help. Sevier said it’s a huge help even if all a volunteer does is help with trimming ferret nails or play with the ferrets.
To help raise funds for Fuzzie Friends, last year was the first ever FFO Rodeo. “We are doing it again this year on April 16, 2011, and hope to have it as an annual event,” Sevier said. “It is a ‘fun’ show and not for conformation. We have games like the tube races, costume contest, biggest and smallest male/female and others. We have fun meeting up with other ‘ferret’ people. Can’t wait to see how this year turns out!” Sevier said this event and an upcoming garage sale in March are her best ways to raise money for the shelter.
Life At Fuzzie Friends
Sevier’s day at Fuzzie Friends begins by checking on the ferrets to be sure that all are OK. “Some are insulinomic, so I check on them fairly often,” Sevier said. Medications are given as needed.
She then begins the process of rotating different ferret groups through the playroom, doing cage cleanup and replenishing food and other items while a group enjoys playtime.
“If it is time to do nails, etc., then I go into the ferret pen and sit on the floor with all of them hopping all over me,” Sevier said. She starts with whichever ferret is nearest. But grooming the ferrets isn’t her only concern.
“I also check all the equipment/toys etc that are in the playpen/room to make sure no one has busted any of the balls or other toys and no stuffing is coming out of the stuffed animal toys they love to carry around with them.”
Sevier said this process can take several hours. Between all the tasks already noted, she’s also doing laundry.
“Since I stay at home, I have the day and evening to do this,” Sevier said. “I am lucky that way.”
But things change when Sevier and the ferrets have places to go.
“If it is a day that my Therapy Ferrets have ‘dates’ at the school or nursing homes, then the night before I get their bags ready for whatever/wherever we are to go that next day. Also have to make sure the batteries in the camera are ready too. Have to have those pix! When there is an ‘appearance’ with them, that usually takes at least two hours.”
Sevier said sometimes they stay at an elementary school for almost an entire day.
Back at the shelter, 10 or 11 p.m. signals the time for medications again.
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Troy Lynn Eckart is the founder of Ferret Family Services, a domestic ferret information, education and welfare public service organization in Kansas.