Pet ferrets are illegal to own in the state of California, but many people own them anyway. This puts the ferrets at risk of being confiscated and removed from the state, and owners of being charged with a misdemeanor. California and Hawaii are the only two states to ban ferret ownership. Ferrets are also banned by a few cities, such as New York City.
Ferret proponents have been trying since the 1980s to get ferret ownership legalized in California. And one of the latest efforts is taking the case for ferret ownership to the White House.
LegalizeFerrets.org, an organization that formed in 2005 with the goal of getting ferret ownership legalized in California, started a petition on January 6, 2013, at the We The People website. At the time it was created, petitions that reached 25,000 signatures in 30 days would usually receive a response from the White House. On January 15, the signature threshold was raised to 100,000 for a possible response. The reason cited for this change was the explosive growth of users and petitions.
The change in signatures was not retroactive, so the ferret petition still needs only 25,000, but the deadline of February 5 is fast-approaching — and the signatures on the ferret petition have only reached a little more than 2,200.
To date this latest effort isn’t gaining the signatures required for a response, but it is prompting a new round of media coverage, including news from the Los Angeles Times, Steve Dale’s Pet World, eNewsChannels and even the BBC.
Pat Wright, head of LegalizeFerrets.org, formed the group after a bill that would legalize ferrets made it to the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in late 2004 and was vetoed. Schwarzenegger cited the need for less bureaucracy and an environmental impact report. Wright said the EIR was delivered in 2010, and a California Environmental Quality Act checklist that was then requested was delivered a few months later.
“We’re asking them to give the issue a fair hearing,” Wright said, “And it’s falling not on deaf ears, but on hostile ears. That’s why a little nudge from the White House, an acknowledgment that we’re being treated unfairly, would be extremely welcomed by California’s besieged ferret owners.”
Ferret information from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is posted on its website.
If the petition fails to reach the signature threshold, it will be removed from the site. According to the We The People FAQ, anyone who is 13 or older can create or sign a petition. To participate, users must create a WhiteHouse.gov account and verify their email address.
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