American Ferret Association, Inc.
  97 ferrets seized in Virginia Beach

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Animal Control seized 97 ferrets, a dog, a bird and three cats from a home-based ferret shelter in Virginia Beach on January 29, 2008. They were responding to a complaint about ferrets living in poor conditions.

The Animal control agents stated that the conditions were unsanitary, crowded and that most of the animals were suffering from dehydration and malnutrition.

Eighty-nine deceased ferrets were found in freezers on the property along with a deceased otter, rat and cat.

Sixty one of the ninety seven ferrets were euthanized citing poor health as the reason. Approximately fifteen of the surviving ferrets went to the Animal Control facility in Virginia beach and the other 20+ went to the Virginia Beach SPCA.

The ferret shelter had been taking in the old, sick or otherwise unwanted ferrets for well over a decade. Recently the shelter director had become ill and was not able to properly care for the ferrets. It is terribly unfortunate that the Virginia Beach ferret community had not been contacted by the shelter to assist as this situation could have been avoided for the sake of the ferrets and the humans involved.

The following morning, January 30th, Tyler Mills and Lisa Leidig of the Ferret Haven by the Sea ferret shelter stopped by both the Animal Control and the SPCA to drop off food for the ferrets and to offer assistance with care, ferret education, age and health analysis and adoption. The SPCA gratefully accepted help on that day to get the ferrets evaluated and set up in a ferret sui environment. The SPCA has since started adopting out the ferrets.

The American Ferret Association, Inc. sent out a press release on January 30th regarding this case. Please see the press release below;

The Disposable Ferret

Ferrets require a good deal of commitment and responsibility. Many people do not realize the care and commitment a ferret requires until it is too late. They think they can simply let it loose once they tire of it, or they think an animal shelter can provide it a home.

Our disposable society has created a new commodity: the disposable ferret. Over the years the homeless ferret population has skyrocketed due to the following reasons: lack of commitment on the part of the pet owner, the belief that ferrets are disposable, the misconception that ferret shelters can take care of all unwanted ferrets and overstocking pet stores with baby ferrets for the uneducated pet buyer for the ease of an impulse purchase.

People may buy a ferret for several reasons: They want company, they want a cute baby ferret kit, it would be nice for the children, or they get a ferret as a present. The novelty of a ferret quickly wears off once the owner realizes the ferret requires commitment - food, water, shots, time, medical care, and attention.

Once an owner doesn't want the ferret they may think they can simply let it loose. Ferrets left in the street to fend for themselves have a life expectancy of less than a week. They will die of starvation, overexposure, be killed by another animal or get hit by a car. Ferrets are domestic animals; they are used to being taken care of and their survival instincts are poor. On their own, they are not able to survive.

The truth is that for every twenty ferrets in need of a home, there is only one person willing to adopt. The rest will be sent to animal shelters and will ultimately be destroyed. Because of the overcrowding at local animal shelters and because most have no clue how to care properly for a ferret, ferrets that are brought in are usually destroyed. This has lead to home based ferret shelters.

The biggest problem with home based ferret shelters is that the shelter moms and dads are human. They all at one time or another get sick, tired (or sick and tired), burned out, or have families issues to deal with. Sometimes itŐs just getting older. In reality they are all only one illness, family crisis or accident away from becoming a headline.

How many ferrets does your local ferret shelter have? How many dead ones are in their freezer waiting for the spring thaw to be buried or to have enough to take a bulk amount to the local crematorium? How many shelters are run by just one person? What happens if that person is in an accident on the way home or breaks a leg or gets cancer?

Replace the word shelter above with ferretry and shelter operator with ferret breeder. Now replace shelter with ferret owner with many ferrets. How close are you to becoming a headline???

Ferret owners, breeders and shelter operators need to keep in touch with each other. Everyone needs to have a plan and that plan needs to be kept up to date. Planning for the unexpected will help to keep you from becoming the next headline.