New York votes on whether to reverse ban on ferrets as city pets

Will New York city reverse the ferret ban of some 16 years by voting to allow the animals to be recognised as domestic pets?

A black-footed ferret

A black-footed ferret Image by USFWS Mountain-Prairie / CC BY 2.0

While the State of New York already allows them above ground, the biggest city in the US has driven them underground since 1999 when it outlawed them. On Tuesday, the city’s Board of Health will decide if they should lift the longstanding ban. Ferrets are legal to own as pets in much of the US but California, Hawaii and Washington DC are among the states which have banned them.

NBC New York reports that the animals have become popular as pets in recent years with Paris Hilton one of a string of celebrity owners. It is estimated by The American Veterinary Medicine Association that about 334,000 households in the USA have ferrets – a minute percentage when compared to cats and dogs’ numbers.

Ferret lovers say they make ideal apartment dwellers as they are small, quiet and can be caged when occupants are out. Also they are litter-trainable. Concerns about their biting and smell are overblown, say owners. Others though feel a city is not the place for such an animal.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll saw 42% of New Yorkers opposed to the idea of allowing them official status as pets, while 39% supported the idea.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t come down one way or the other on the issue.

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