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Biting the hand that feeds you: spotlight on California ferrets

For sure, California residents adore their pets.

Dogs especially. As we note on the Dog Bites page of our website at the Long Beach-based personal injury law firm of Harting, Simkins & Ryan, LLP, "the state has one of the highest dog rates per capita in the country."

Puppy love does not equate to carte blanche regarding the behavior of beloved animal companions, though. California authorities put dog owners on what is figuratively a very short leash when it comes to unprovoked animal attacks that injure -- sometimes fatally so -- adults and children in the state.

And what holds true with dogs is likewise the case for any animal held in captivity and treated as a pet by an individual in California. Animals do not get one free bite before their owners are put on notice that future incidents will yield repercussions.

Let's talk ferrets. They can become suddenly aggressive and are known to bite suddenly and without provocation. That being the case, California law bans them as pets within the state.

Notwithstanding that, one man who owns several ferrets in violation of state law has somehow managed to gain conditional approval from state lawmakers to introduce a ballot seeking to make ferret importation and ownership legal. To do so, he must first muster the requisite number of signatures to raise the issue in an upcoming referendum.

Success seems unlikely, with the would-be law changer himself admitting that, "It would take a miracle."

The man has already spent time in jail for his behavior following a complaint some time back that one of his animals scratched a child at a public park. On another occasion, one of his ferrets bit a cameraman and had to be euthanized. And ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill seeking ferret legalization in 2003.

California law does not sanction animal attacks, especially when they are unprovoked and present even slight risks to public safety.

Ferrets might be cute to some people. California authorities have spoken, though, and their fiat is clear: It is flatly illegal to import such animals into the state or own them.

Source: Reuters, "California man seeks to legalize pet ferrets -- even though they bite," Sharon Bernstein, Aug. 17, 2015

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