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Ferret Lovers'
Club of Texas
Frisco,TX 75034

If you have a question or concern regarding your ferret please call us.
If
you have a medical emergency please call
your ferret vet or
emergency clinic.

(214) 407-7543

TxFLR
Petfinder

To Adopt or give up a ferret call Texas Ferret Lovers Rescue at: 972-286-5778
or 214-407-7543

               

Ferret Lovers Club of Texas

Local Legal Issues

Texas, and Dallas/Fort Worth in particular, makes patchwork of laws regarding ferrets.  There is no statutory law that either specifically prohibits ferret ownership or specifically recognizes their status as pets.  Since 1993, when Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rules were changed to eliminate language that could have been inappropriately interpreted the define the domestic ferret as a wild weasel, there has been no state level code which could be considered to ban pet ferrets.   Part of the earlier confusion resulted from  TPW having incorrectly identified the domestic ferret as M. eversmanni, commonly called an ermine.  There are now Texas Department of Health rules regarding zoonosis control that define M. putorius furo / M. furo as domestic ferrets and specify quarantine periods and bare minimum housing conditions for ferrets which have been involved in a bite incident.   These rules generally apply the same standards as for dogs and cats.

Though it is partly the lack of regulation at the state level that allows the municipal ordinance variations, municipalities also have the power to make their own regulations so long as they are not less restrictive than state codes.   The result is that there are several different situations that can occur in any given city, and different language and restrictions even where the end result is similar.   Municipal animal codes may create the following types of situations:

  • Prohibition by Ordinance -- The city's code of ordinances specifically defines ferrets as prohibited.  It may be done by the common name "ferret", the scientific name Mustela (putorius) furo, the scientific family name Mustelidae, or by first writing a definition of "wild animal" that includes ferrets in some way (however incorrectly) and then prohibiting the keeping of wild animals.

  • Prohibition by Policy -- In this case the city's code of ordinances in no way specifically defines ferrets as prohibited nor permitted, but the city's department of health or animal control department state that ferrets are not allowed and may even confiscate the ferrets and/or issue citations.  Generally this is a situation that will not hold up to a court examination (Beaumont lost a case like this), but it may still create a hazard for ferrets.

  • Unregulated -- In this case the city's code of ordinances neither specifically prohibits nor permits nor recognizes ferrets.  They simply go unmentioned.  Since the state does not prohibit ferret ownership, ferrets are by default permitted in these cities.  There are usually no problems in these areas.  However, the advent of less than ferret-friendly animal control authorities could change this.  FLC generally advises folks in these cities not to be greatly concerned and to leave well enough alone in the code arena as even code specifically allowing ferrets can be quite restrictive and worse than no code.

  • Legal -- The municipality has included language specifically allowing, and likely regulating, ferret ownership.  The variety here ranges from passing an ordinance that removed the word "ferret" from the prohibited animal code to simple registration, as for a dog, to elaborate permit, insurance, inspection, and licensing schemes.

  • Summary Chart of DFW Area

To learn more about the status in your city, research the code of ordinances and interview the director of animal control or equivalent authority.  It is strongly recommended that you do both of these as you may find the information does not match!  One resource that is helpful for some Texas cities is the Municipal Code Corporation's online depository of codes of ordinance for a number of cities.  Just check closely to see how current the online version is since some cities update more frequently than others.  Regardless of what the MCC site can offer, you can always visit the city secretary's office and request a copy of the entire animal code from the city's code of ordinances.  It is often kept within a chapter titled "Animals" or similar.  Read the whole code, because you never know when you will find "ferret" defined as wild or livestock and then limited by code applying to those groups of animals.  Then have a casual and hopefully friendly discussion with the director of animal control.  Ask this person how ferrets are classified within the city and what regulations apply to their ownership to see what they have to say about legal status, permit/license/registration requirements or other requirements.  You need to be aware of any discrepancies between the code and the interpretation of those who actually handle animal issues for the city.

Finally, check out the lists of cities in Dallas / Fort Worth by ferret status (see links above) to see what information FLC-TX may have to share.  Please be aware that this information is offered only to assist you in your research.  City codes and animal control attitudes may shift making the information on the list outdated, so please double-check the information yourself as you are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of your ferret!