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Law Office Management

Aug. 2, 2015

Ferreting Out a Pet Initiative for 2016

It's been illegal to own ferrets as pets in California since 1933.

The possibility of legalizing marijuana has many Californians looking eagerly toward the November 2016 election. But another contingent also hopes that, after years of failed attempts, this is the right moment for its passion project: a ballot proposition to legalize the possession of ferrets. Keeping the furry rodents as pets is legal in 48 states but was outlawed here in 1933.

Legalization has been Pat Wright's pet issue-so to speak-since he bought Chester, his first ferret, around 1988. In 1994, the first bill introduced in the state Assembly failed. A decade later, an amnesty bill made it through both houses of the Legislature before then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. More recent efforts also have failed.

"Every year we get shot down more ludicrously," says Wright, who founded Ferrets Anonymous ( in 1993 and lives in La Mesa.

California and Hawaii are the only states holding out against owning ferrets as pets. California's Fish and Game Commission says the carnivores pose a threat to wildlife, agriculture, and people. Wright simply doesn't agree. "The government should work for the people, and this is a total example of how they aren't."

It'll take 365,880 signatures to get an initiative onto the ballot, and the decades have taught Wright caution, but he's optimistic: "This is the year to try it."

Emily Morris

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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