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Although legal to own in 48 states, ferrets are illegal to have as pets in California.
What have zombies got to do with ferrets? Well, zombies tend to get attention, and that’s something ferret enthusiasts in California want (more on the zombie connection later). California is one of only two states (the other being Hawaii) that bans ferret ownership. A few cities (notably New York City) also ban the furry pets, but they are otherwise widely accepted across the United States.
Since the 1980s, different people and groups have worked to get ferret ownership legalized in California. LegalizeFerrets.org is spearheading the current effort. The group was founded in 2005. Since its beginnings, the organization, founded by Pat Wright, has tried almost every approach to getting ferret ownership legalized. It constantly raises funds to support these efforts, which include hiring legal representation, funding a preliminary environmental impact report, contacting California legislators, renting a billboard, commissioning a children’s book (“A Fair Deal For Ferrets”), petitioning the White House and more.
Asking Voters About Ferret Legalization
The latest effort at ferret legalization is getting signatures on a petition to get an initiative on the 2016 ballot that will put the question of ferret legalization to voters. The Attorney General of California gave the initiative the following title and summary:
FERRETS. LEGALIZATION AS PETS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Legalizes the possession, importation, and transportation of pet ferrets. Requires all pet ferrets over six months old to be vaccinated against rabies annually, and all ferrets sold as pets in retail stores to be spayed or neutered before sale.
Authorizes counties to impose license fee up to $100 on purchasers of ferrets as pets, to pay costs of local animal control enforcement.
Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Likely additional local government costs of a few million dollars annually for animal control enforcement activities, which could be largely or entirely offset by the license fees authorized by the measure.
Why Are Ferrets Illegal In California?
Ferrets have been illegal to own in California since 1933 when a law randomly classified them as wild animals and put them under the jurisdiction of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to LegalizeFerrets.org. The main arguments against ferret ownership in California revolve around agricultural interests and public health and safety. The California Department of Fish And Wildlife has a ferret section on its website that details its view of ferrets.
To these objections, the AFA website states:
• All ferrets sold at retail or adopted through shelters, and most ferrets sold through breeders, are neutered.• All ferrets sold or available to be adopted through shelters for the purpose of being household companion animals are specifically bred to be docile, friendly, and suitable for co-existence with human beings and cannot survive away from human caretaking for more than a brief time.• No evidence exists of any feral colony of ferrets ever being formed within the United States.• There has not been a single reported case in the United States of ferret-to-human rabies transmission since such recordkeeping began in 1951, and a USDA-approved rabies vaccine for ferrets has been available since 1992.• Like all mammals, ferrets are capable of biting but do so at a significantly lower rate than cats and dogs.
Grassroots Effort To Legalize Ferrets
So how do zombies figure into all of this? One of the volunteers who is collecting signatures will be doing so at the 15th Annual Sacramento Zombie Walk on August 29. The Facebook page notes that: “We have a booth at the Sacramento Zombie Walk. Looking for petitioners to come help gather signatures. Event is expecting 2500 people and media coverage. Message me for questions and details. Zombie make up optional.”