by Vanessa Ogle
There are dog people. There are cat people. And, now, there are ferret people.
For the first time since 1999, New York City is considering reversing a ban on ferret ownership in all five boroughs. Though ownership is legal throughout the rest of the state, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani enacted a citywide ban, which the Bloomberg administration defended.
But that hasn’t stopped residents from secretly owning ferrets.
So Sheepshead Bay resident Ariel Jasper, 23, was excited when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office. De Blasio, who seeks to ban horse drawn carriages from city streets, has already earned a reputation from animal rights activists as a more compassionate mayor for animal rights than his predecessors.
“Growing up, I had an interest in ferrets,” Jasper told Sheepshead Bites. “They were adorable.”
She’d been eager to stop the ban but didn’t feel that the Bloomberg administration would have been receptive. In early January, after de Blasio took office, she launched a Change.org petition that now has more than 380 supporters. Now Jasper, a master’s student at Brooklyn College, is the frontlines activist to overturn the ban and credited with prompting the change at City Hall.
On Tuesday, officials from the Health Department confirmed they would support lifting the ban.
Ferrets, though commonly misidentified as rodents, are actually part of the weasel family. They have a lifespan of between five and nine years and they have the same bite incident as a cat or dog.
“We allow very powerful dogs in our society,” Jasper said. “I don’t understand the double standards.”
Jasper feels that with ferrets—like all animals—it comes down to responsible pet ownership.
“You never leave any child unsupervised with any animal,” she said.
Her only concern about the legalization of ferrets revolves around impulsive pet store customers.
“Ferrets have an initial cuteness,” she said, but adds that they shouldn’t be purchased on a whim. “They need space and they require special care. They are not cage animals.”
Legalization could take place anytime between June and December. And when it does, Jasper plans on owning a ferret.
“Once everything’s legal,” she said.