Man leads petition to allow ferrets as pets in California

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California is one of two states in the nation that prohibits possessing a ferret. It's considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail. One man is trying to change that law. (KABC)

As the political season heats up, a California debate promises to be a real fight.

California is one of two states in the nation that prohibits possessing a ferret. It's considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail.

Pat Wright said the law is widely ignored. He not only owns three ferrets, he displays them in his interview with Eyewitness News.

"If you are going to ban an animal that is legal in 48 states that has never had a problem, you should really have a good reason," Wright said.

Wright, of La Mesa, is leading a petition drive to leave the issue up to the voters. The last time Sacramento weighed in, the legislature approved the furry critters. But former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it, saying that it would create too much bureaucracy for California's Department of Fish and Wildlife to regulate them.

At the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA, Sgt. Luis Berrios said training or taming an animal doesn't take away its instincts.

"Domesticated and domesticating are two different things. A raccoon, a skunk can be domesticated - that doesn't necessarily make it legal to possess," he said.

A study conducted by the fish and wildlife department to learn about the potential impacts in 2010 listed multiple incidents of pet ferrets attacking babies. In one instance, an infant lost 40 percent of her ear in an attack. But Wright said injuries are possible with all pets.

"They're cute and fuzzy, but you don't put a dog, or cat, or ferret, or a rat in a baby crib," he said.

As for the ban, Wright said there is marketing data for pet supplies, which indicates thousands of people already own ferrets in California.

"Twenty-seven percent of the nation's ferret supplies is sold in California, so we know that we have 27 percent of the nation's ferrets," he said.

He now calls on all ferret supporters to join his campaign at legalizeferrets.org. Wright's petition is scheduled to begin on Friday.
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politicslawswild animalsanimalanimal newsbancaliforniaCalifornia
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