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Erica Holloway

Ferret Lovers Covet Maienschein’s Backing

Ferret lovers coveting Assemblyman-elect Brian Maienschein’s backing might be in for disappointment.

Evidently, founder Pat Wright fell to despair when two supportive candidates lost in the general election on November 6. Yet, he wrote in his recent newsletter this fuzzy note of love:

“There was one person elected who had some ferret knowledge. Brian Maienschein was elected in the 77th Assembly district and met Alice Kaiser and her ferrets.”

Not so, said Maienschein campaign manager Lance Witmondt who told the Sacramento Bee: “Brian has not ever met a ferret and he will not be sponsoring legislation to legalize ferret ownership.”

He’s never met a ferret? Maybe not. But in his profession, I’m sure he’s met a few of the ferret’s weaselly cousins.

Yesteryear’s 77th Assembly District seatholder City Attorney Jan Goldsmith infamously authored a bill decriminalizing ferret ownership. The Voice of San Diego noted the career highlight in a 2008 profile when Goldsmith first ran for city attorney.

“That bill caused a stir in the media at the time, especially when Goldsmith was subjected to an embarrassing remark from Willie Brown, a gregarious and popular fellow legislator famous for his snazzy attire and lavish lifestyle. ‘That bill is deader than that thing on his head,’ Brown quipped about Goldsmith’s new hairpiece.”

Back in my Senate days, I received ferret lobby literature aplenty including bumper stickers with the cute little fur faces.

In Michigan, my friend owned a ferret. He was naughty, but harmless. Hid items all over the apartment like a pack-rat and even with his glands removed, his stink wafted throughout the apartment.

So, why all the ferret hate? The LA Times dug into the ferret pile and here’s what they found:

State wildlife regulators say escaped or discarded ferrets could establish feral populations and threaten native wildlife, such as nesting birds, rabbits and squirrels.

‘We are already overrun with nonnative species in the state of California,’ said Jim Kellogg, the commission’s president. ‘There’s no reason for us to legalize one more animal that could come into California and do damage to our native species.’

Wildlife officials say ferrets also pose a threat to small children, pointing to reports that a four-month-old baby in Missouri had several fingers chewed off by his family’s pet ferret in January.

Despite the legal tug-o-war, the Department of Fish and Game admits knowing that more ferrets live in California than any other state. However, the “threat to small children” peaked my interest. I’d certainly grant anyone that dangerous animals should not be legally domesticated.

But if that’s the threshold, why not also make pit bulls illegal in California? In 2011, fatal pit-bull attacks made up 71 percent of dog-related fatalities in the U.S. with California and Texas leading the nation.

Have any strong ferret feelings? Share them.

– Follow me @erica_holloway.

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