Adoption Dilemma

About a month and a half ago, one of my ferrets passed away. Her name was Maple and she was a sweet little ferret, about 4.5 years old. Ferrets typically live to about 6 or 7 years old, but some can live up to 10 years. My remaining ferret, Mr. Choco, is also 4.5 years old, and went from being a playful, frisky ferret, to a very sad, lonely ferret. He still plays with us sometimes, but we can’t keep up with him like a ferret. He misses chasing and wrestling with Maple, and snuggling with her after they’ve tired out. In ferret lingo, they were “bonded” (nothing to do with mating as they were both fixed).

We could quite easily go the pet store and buy a ferret kit (the term for ferret baby), but we are not sure if we want to make that kind of commitment. We would rather get a ferret close to Mr. Choco’s age, preferably a female, that is playful and is looking for a friend. We’ve searched all the ferret shelters in Alabama and surrounding states, as well as animal shelters that occasionally have ferrets. The thing is, most ferrets immediately find another to bond with, and we wouldn’t dream of pulling away two bonded ferrets. We eventually found a couple of potential friends for Mr. Choco at a rescue shelter in Georgia, which is over 6 hours away roundtrip. One is Mr. Choco’s age, looking for a friend, but can’t bond with her cagemate because he bites her sometimes (he has a tragic background that I won’t go into).

So here’s the dilemma. The people who run the ferret shelter are conditioned by years of tragedy. They trust no one. They demand the adoption agreement included unimpeded access to my home, a custody agreement stating whether the ferret will go to me or my wife in the event of a divorce, as well as the understanding that they will be calling us throughout the ferret’s life to ensure we provide the ferret with proper medical care, meet vaccine deadlines, etc. Also, they insist I bring Mr. Choco to meet the potential playmates to see how they get along. Then we can come back a week later and pick up the ferret, because they want to get the ferret checked out with their vet one last time. The man who runs the ferret shelters is beyond rude, and told me “There are no exceptions, no extenuating circumstance, no special considerations. All of these rules will be met. And we will come to your home after the adoption at least once to make sure it’s ferret-safe.”

I have had four ferrets in my life. I have ferret-proofed three homes. When I buy furniture, I make sure it is ferret friendly or that I can modify it to be so. I bought the largest, most comfortable ferret cage on the market and made further modifications for my ferrets’ comfort. I have spent thousands of dollars on medical care for my ferrets over the years, including two major surgeries. I clean my ferrets’ cage religiously, bathe them as needed, cut their nails, play with them, keep the AC running at all times in the summer to keep them cool, and provide a loving, caring home. I do not want suspicious strangers calling me to see if I made the vet appointment, coming to my home to judge whether I’ve properly ferret-proofed my home, forcing my wife and I to sign a custody agreement, and intruding into my business.

And finally, my remaining ferret does not like to travel. He hates it. He refuse to eat or drink while traveling, even if I pull off to the sie of the road and pour cold water into his bowl and try to hand feed him food. When I dropped him off at a friend’s ferret shelter back in Houston when I’d return to Austin for a visit, he would run and hide the entire time. He is the most playful, sweet ferret, but he takes time to get used to other ferrets. When we moved to Alabama, it was two months before he stopped running like crazy when anyone would walk around the corner. If I bring him out to that shelter in Georgia, he’s not going to want to play with the other ferrets. He’s going to be stressed as well from the three hour drive, find a place to hide, and avoid other ferrets. I asked the shelter owner if I could just observe the potential playmates interacting with other ferrets to decide who would be a good playmate, and he repeated, “NO EXCEPTIONS. BRING YOUR FERRET HERE OR GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.”

The problem is, the contract is standard, and the other places I called anywhere near my home (up to 3, 4, and 5 hours away) have the same policies. They want unimpeded access to the ferret and they want to keep tabs on her throughout her life. They want to do home inspections. They don’t grant exceptions. But I’m a private person. I don’t want some stranger involved in my life or coming to my home with or without my permission. I resent the insinuation that I’m a bad pet owner. I resent the whole intrusive process.

So I’m left with buying a ferret kit at the pet store (they ask no questions at all, which is the other extreme of the spectrum and much worse for the ferrets in general), which I don’t really want to do, or adopting from the shelters, which are going to invade my privacy. And this leaves Mr. Choco a very lonely ferret, despite all the attention we give him.

I am very frustrated, and think I really need a fresh perspective. I appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you guys could offer.

How about a cat for Mr. Choco?
That sucks about the strict rules for ferret adoption.

Yea, but I can understand why they feel that way. The percent of ferret owners who later decide they can’t keep a pesky rodent that’s constantly gnawing on the furniture, eating their shoes and biting their children, which seemed like such a cool idea for a pet when their child first cried out for it in the mall pet store must be very high.

Maybe Choco could play with Paris’s ferret.

from what I have seen very few of these type of places actually follow up, and once in your life won’t be the end of the world and you will have saved a ferret

The contract and their concerns for the lifelong welfare of the ferret are understandable and even commendable; they’re inflexibility (and rudeness) isn’t. In reality, you will not have your privacy invaded to any great extent by their conditions, and they are doing their best to ensure the wellbeing of the adopted ferret, after all, which I know you support.

The main problem I see is the travel issue. To me, that would be the factor that would make me reconsider adopting from this particular shelter. If they refuse to allow some flexibility here, I would say keep looking elsewhere - the perfect solution will always come up … and usually just before we give up hope.

i had ferrets when I was in England, and they were a constant source of laughs, entertainment, enjoyment, and affection. I really miss those little guys.

Good luck with finding a pal for Choco. Don’t give up just yet!

For clarification, ferrets are weasels, not rodents. However, you’re mainly right. So many people, probably the overwhelming majority, make bad or even horrendous ferret owners. They see the ferret in the store, and think “oh it’s so cute!” but have no idea how that ferret can turn their house upside down. Just to give an example, ferrets love to scratch a hole in the webbing underneath beds, crawl inside, continue to scratch upwards. Depending on the kind of base and the kind of mattress, there can be moving parts (like springs) that can hurt or kill the ferret. Even if they don’t continue upwards, it will be very difficult to get them out of there if there is just one small hole. I cut the webbing out of my base, which has no springs and is made of only wooden planks they can’t reach. Of course you can buy a fantastic base and mattress, as long as you rent or buy a staple gun, buy some rabbit wire, staple it down, and dull the points. Thin paneling would also work.

Recliners are another example of a piece a furniture ferrets are sure to try to get into and could very easily hurt themselves in. I searched for two months before finally finding ferret proof recliners. You can see what it looks like by clicking here. A pair of those wasn’t cheap. But my ferrets aren’t interested in them because there’s nowhere for them to hide, and so that makes it worth it. Every piece of furniture in my home was either bought or modified specifically to accomodate ferrets.

Some other random things - no shoes where they can reach them, no closed doors with carpet underneath because they’ll stratch it, no trashcans where they can reach it, no exit ports they can reach, no ports into cabinets, no ports into the refrigerator, oven, washer/dryer, no furniture on carpet they can get under because they’ll scratch scratch (think end tables, desks, etc.). Everything has to be either high enough off the ground they’re not interested, or low enough they can’t get under. Or if you have tile or hardwood flooring, they aren’t going to scratch it. BUT ferrets prefer carpet because that is softer on their paws.

Oh and unless you have a litter pan in every room of your home, forget about them being 100% litter trained. When they need to go, they find the nearest corner. They can be litter trained within the cage, but when they’re out and about they are not going to run across the house to find the litter pan. Plan to invest in a good carpet steamer or tile steamer. I have both. Also, ferrets are not good pets for children, because they are too high maintenance and children usually don’t know how to handle them (resulting in biting). Oh yeah and their cages must be constantly cleaned unless you want your home to stink to high heaven.

Judging by what I have read, heard, and seen with my own eyes over the past five years, the huge majority of ferret owners do not make the proper accomodations for their ferrets. What they thought was the cutest thing they ever saw in their life at the pet score becomes their heaviest burden in the span of about two days. At best they let the ferret for a half hour a day, follow it around to make sure it doesn’t get into their shoes, knock over trashcans, etc., then they put in back in their cage. In the worst cases they treat the ferret like a goldfish and never let it out of its cage, they beat it when it doesn’t obey them like a dog would, they take it to the dumpster or put in the mailbox of the local animal control center when there is an anonymous drop off cage three feet away (this happened down the road from where I lived in Houston).

I know all too well why rescue shelter owners want to be picky about who they adopt to. But what I have told you about my experience with ferrets here I have told them in much greater detail. And still they treat me like an animal abuser. :idunno:

I guess my philosophy is that once I adopt the ferret, it becomes part of my family, and I don’t want anyone “inspecting” my home to make sure I am taking care of my family. I don’t want anyone calling me to make sure my family has gotten all their vaccinations or being fed the proper food. If they don’t think I’m a good ferret owner, then don’t adopt to me. If they do, then put aside their suspicions and let me give another ferret a loving home.

[quote=“TaiwanPsycho”]How about a cat for Mr. Choco?
That sucks about the strict rules for ferret adoption.[/quote]

I am allergic to cats and dogs. And once when we rescued a kitten, Mr. Choco was scared to death of her for the whole week we had her (at which time we gave her to a good home).

An update on Mr. Choco’s situation:

We have continued to give him lots of attention, bought him new toys, and have invented a new game to play with him. We both sit on the floor (which he loves) and spread out a blanket. Then we take his rattling and jingling toys and hide them in the blanket. Then we shake the toys so he can hear the noise. He goes wild and rushes over. He has to search through the tunnels (folds in the blanket) to get the toys, which is something that ferrets love to do (hence the word “ferret” as a verb). It takes at least twenty minutes for him to get all the toys, which he takes to his hiding place one by one, and afterwards we usually play another game or two with him.

All of the attention seems to have had a positive effect. He is more active now, doesn’t “speedbump” around the house as much, and is sleeping a lot better. He’ll always miss his Maple, but at least he is not quite so depressed.

Have you tried looking on Craigs List for a ferret? I did a quick search and found a number of people looking for homes for their ferrets. Not sure how far you are willing to travel but there may be someone nearer to you who is looking for a home for a ferret that meets your requirements. I know of several successful pet adoptions done through Craigs List, so you might want to give it a try.

We got a new ferret!

Her name is Willow and she’s a year older than Mr. Choco. We got her from a lady who runs an unofficial animal rescue shelter that uses the same vet as us. There were no contracts or other such nonsense. We asked the vet’s office to contact her for us, which they did. She asked the vet assisants about us, and had decided before even calling us that we’re good ferret owners. So we picked Willow up last weekend, and she and Choco hit it off immediately. The next morning we found them in the cage snuggling with each other.

We’re so happy that Choco has a playmate again!

Hoopla. Very good news indeed. Mr Choco and Willow are in good hands. Each others, of course.

[quote=“gao_bo_han”]There were no contracts or other such nonsense. [/quote]GBH, you appear to have difficulties understanding why contracts are necessary.

Perhaps you and your Missus could have a car accident tomorrow and your furry friends will be left homeless. Should they really be handed out to anyone who says “sure, I want a couple ferrets” ?

I don’t think so.

Are you a rapist? Are you a murderer? Perhaps you only break traffic laws? Should precautions not be taken in the forms of criminal laws and traffic laws just because YOU don’t break these laws? Pet adoption contracts are not meant for people like you, GBH. (There would be no need for contracts if all pet owners were like you. There would be no need for rape legislations if there were no rapists either.) If you can get your head around that, you’ll understand the significance and the importance of adoption contracts.

Good to hear you found a companion for you friend and that they actually get along. :slight_smile:


[quote=“bobepine”]Perhaps you and your Missus could have a car accident tomorrow and your furry friends will be left homeless. Should they really be handed out to anyone who says “sure, I want a couple ferrets” ?

I don’t think so.[/quote]

Neither do I. But none of the pet contracts I saw specified what would happen to the pets in the event of death. Maybe the next generation of pet adoption contracts will include such clauses. But there comes a point where the pet shelter simply needs to trust the adopter. By all means conduct a tough interview, and even conduct a home visit prior to adopting out. But trust that the person to have a will or make arrangements for their pets. In my case, I know with 100% certainty that my surviving family and friends would find good homes for my ferrets. Does the ferret shelter know this? Not with 100% they wouldn’t. But that’s where trust comes in.

The American criminal justice system already punishes those who abuse animals (witness the fate of Michael Vick), just as it punishes those who harm humans or violate traffic laws. Contracts are simply oral or written agreements between consenting parties that are enforceable by law. I can understand the desire of shelter owners to have pet contracts that allow for free access to the home; they want to ensure that the adopted pet is being loved and cared for. But there’s another party to consider here: the adopter. The adopter should be able to reasonably expect that if an animal shelter has given him approval to adopt a pet, then they will trust him to take good care of the pet. In my opinion, if a shelter or other party wishing to adopt out a pet does not trust the potential adopter after a rigorous interview and perhaps a prior home inspection, then the shelter or whoever should simply not be adopting the pet to that person.

I see what you’re getting at. You’re saying that pet contracts can function as a private citizenry extension of the criminal justice system. Sure, laws exist which punish animal abusers, but most cops and investigators have other priorities, and lots of animal abusers are never discovered. By including provisions for unmitigated access to the home, animal shelters and similar organizations can supplement the police force by conducting their own investigations. As a person who runs an animal shelter, no doubt you have encountered individuals who interviewed well, but were later discovered to be horrible pet owners. Those special clauses in your pet contract allowed you to save an animal that would otherwise have suffered.

Given all that, I can understand the desire for far reaching pet contracts. But the possibility of undiscovered pet abuse needs to be weighed against the adopter’s right of privacy. The government could argue that unmitigated police access to private citizens’ homes will result in more prevention and arrest of domestic abuse than exists in the current system. And the government would probably be right. And yet, our Constitution prevents the government from doing so. The possibility of domestic abuse going undiscovered and unpunished is weighed against the citizen’s right to privacy, and the scales lean towards privacy.

Of course, I fully support the right of animal shelters to include unmitigated home access in their pet contracts. And I can understand their reasons for doing so. But I personally do not agree with their philosophy, and would not adopt from them. Fortunately, other options were available.



Ferrets are wonderful animals. We always used to have five or six and we had a huge rabbit warren in the next field. Good times. They had one for sale in a petshop on Roosevelt Road the other week, poor little bugger. Very friendly and I was on the point of buying it just to get it out of there, but you know they’d just replace it with two more if I did. [/quote]

GBH, I can see your point re privacy. It’s a good one. I guess I just took issue with your use of the terms “such nonsense” in regards to adoption contracts.

We do post-adoption checks for three reasons:

1-We get attached to the animals we rescue, and it’s always nice to see them again. 99% of the time, visiting an adopted animal is a truly heartwarming experience. Especially when visiting animals that went through extended treatments for illnesses or for animals we had in our care for a long time. To see these animals “right at home” is priceless.

We like to think of these animals as “equal companions.” Certainly, if someone adopted a child, they would not deny visitations or be bothered if a previous foster parent wanted to visit the child.

2- We have a filing system, and it is nice to add post adoption pictures of the animals to our files. Especially when we adopt out puppies and kittens. We like to have pictures of the animals once they are adults. It’s quite nice to see what a kitten or a puppy grows up to be like.

I think it’s common courtesy on the part of the adopters to help the people who rescued the animals that way. It can be seen as a privacy invasion, but I don’t see why someone would feel invaded by people who desire to have documented updates on animals they rescued.

3- The last reason we do adoption check is, of course, to make sure that the animals are properly cared for. That’s where the concept of trust comes into play. According to you, a thorough interview should be enough to determine if someone can be trusted to care for an animal therefore further inspections/ visits are based on a lack of trust and are just an invasion of privacy. But if you consider 1 and 2 above, there is a lot more to adoption checks than just making sure an animal is well cared for.

Adopting an animal is twofold, IMO. For one it’s taking on a homeless animal. That’s a good thing on its own. But it’s also a contribution and a part of the solution to solve the alarming problem of homeless pets which is rampant in many countries.
This, however, may help a homeless animal (on a good day), but it’s not helping the problem as a whole: [quote=“Stray Dog”]‘rescuing’ animals from less-than-scrupulous shelters only supports the practice; it inflates the market, as it were, and frees up space for them to take another animal into those conditions. Consider that by adopting an animal from a more responsible rescue organization, you are enabling them to take in and help more. It also sends a very strong ‘consumers’ message to the worst shelters that they must buck up their ideas or see fewer of their animals adopted.[/quote]

The bottom line is tat there are many reasons why a responsible animal welfare organization will want to have the right to visit an animal post adoption. Looking at it as an invasion of privacy and a lack of trust is simply disregarding what such organizations are all about, and it’s taking away from what these animals really mean to some of us.

In other words, when thinking about visiting a dog we adopted out, I never think “I better go make sure GBH is caring for that animal properly.” Not at all. What I’m thinking is " I wonder how Willow is doing. I want to go see him because I miss him and I hope he’s doing alright."



This is where we differ. I feel that it is an invasion of privacy; you don’t. There’s not much point in discussing it further. But I just wanted to comment on this:

You’re wrong about that. I do understand the noble motivation behind requiring unmitigated home access and documented updates. And I’m sorry if you perceive my statements as diminishing your cause. That certainly wasn’t intended, but I stand by what I said. I am in favor of rigorous interviews and prior home inspections, but I draw the line at open home access etc. That is simply going too far in my opinion.

When I purchased my dog from a reputable breeder in Australia, there was an extensive application process, but once that was cleared, that was it. We still stay in touch with the breeder, but there’s no “checking up” on us. Which is a good thing, because like GBH, that would piss me off.

My sister adopted a Corgi from a rescue group and they were very strict. The dog had been bred by a reputable breeder and sold to a family who signed a contract to have the dog neutered. The breeder found out, four years later (!), that the dog had not been neutered and had been allowed to run loose and had been injured by a car. The breeder pulled out the contract and proceeded to take the dog back from the owners and put it up for adoption. The contract was very important in this case. But the biggest mistake WAS NOT doing follow-up visits with the owner- it would have saved unwanted puppies from being born and possibly exposed this family as irresponsible owners before Mikey had been hit by a car.
Bottom line- if you adopt and are a loving owner who takes good care of you’re pet, then you have nothing to worry about with home visits AND you can feel comfortable knowing that they will take in your pet if anything should happen to you. I know too many pets who were relinquished by family members who PROMISED to care for a pet when the owner passed away. When the time came to fulfill that promise, they reneged and since the owner was dead, they had no one to answer to.

I guess privacy is really important to some people. Fair enough. To each his own.

There are a few more things I can add for the sake of explaining our position regarding adoption contracts and visitation rights.

1- I think the words “unmitigated home access” are a gross exaggeration. We visit an animal once, usually about 8 weeks post adoption. And that is it. 99.9% of the time the adopters get a solid handshake, many praises and thank yous. From there the animals remains in their care and we are confidently removing ourselves from the picture. Email updates and pictures are always well received, but certainly not mandatory nor requested. I think most of the adopters feel appreciated when they realize how happy we are that they took on one of our animals. And they ARE appreciated, very much so. It’s a win win situation 99.9% of the time.

2- Some people get pissed off at the thought of having a rescue group go to their house to visit an animal, other offer gifts and donations, they invite us over for dinner, etc. Like I said, to each his own. Obviously, privacy is more important to some people. :idunno:

3- GBH, you misunderstood my point earlier when I said this: [quote]Perhaps you and your Missus could have a car accident tomorrow and your furry friends will be left homeless. Should they really be handed out to anyone who says “sure, I want a couple ferrets” ?

I don’t think so.[/quote]

What I meant is what if your ferrets end up in a shelter. Would you not prefer that said shelter be somewhat more responsible than to merely rely on an interview? I don’t know, like… Go visit your ferrets to make sure they are doing OK? I’m sure you would prefer that. We care for every animal that we adopt out just as much as you care for your ferrets. Would you adopt out your ferrets to someone who refused that you pay them a visit? ONE visit? I don’t think so. So why should we?

4- I have hired more than 300 people in my life, and of all the duties involved in managing people, by far, the hardest part is hiring. I fired about 30 people over the years. That’s roughly one out of ten. As if a mere thirty minutes interview is enough to know if someone will be a productive and dependable employee. It’s extremely difficult, and we are not willing to have one out of ten of our animals go to a home where they will not be treated adequately.

Perhaps employment and adoption are not perfectly comparable. Out of over 100 animals we adopted out, we only had to take a cat back from the adopters once. They we keeping her in a cage. Note that these people passed the interview leaving us with top notch impressions.

Now think about it. Had we not done a post adoption check, that cat was likely to spend the next ten years in a cage. That’s just unacceptable, and it is the risk you take for other animals when you support shelters who are not responsible that way. Adopt a pet from them, and they will take on another one since you free up space and resources for them. The next animal they adopt out could very well end up in a cage for life or tied to a dog house and forgotten about in the backyard.

We are not willing to take that chance with our furry friends, and for the sake of the animals, we are thankful that a majority of people (or so it seems) are willing to leave their need for privacy aside to help us maintain high standards when it comes to adoption.

And I’m sorry if you perceive my statements as diminishing your cause. [/quote]No apologies needed. No offense taken. I believe the cause remains unaffected. The importance of post adoption visits takes a bit of a hit, though. :wink:

But it’s a matter of opinion, and I think that if you started rescuing/re-homing ferrets, you would change your mind. We really get attached to the little buggers.