>I'm in the military (I can't mention the branch for anon. sake) I just
>found out today that ferrets are illegal on all bases because they are
>considered "tamed wild animals" and in the event of a scratch or bite
>report they would be "confiscated and destroyed immediately without
>question". They are also just plain prohibited to own on base.
Now it has been a while since I was a practicing vet on a military
base, but I don't think that things have changed all that much. I am aware
of no regulation that says that ferrets are illegal on all bases.
Who determines what is legal on a base is the base commander. He bases
his decision on the advice of his staff, and in these decision, the
veterinarian has a lot of sway, and the housing officer has some too. Now
if the veterinarian says no, that's pretty much it, unless the base
commander is a ferret owner himself. So the vet is the one to approach, but
you'll also have to convince the housing officer.
The problem stems from the top - most of the brass buys into the
propaganda put out by the state vets and public health vets, who we know are
not friends of ferrets. This filters down al the way to the lowly captain
fresh out of school, working on that army base. If he bucks the system,
goes against the rules, you know as well as I do, that this can have serious
career consequences (one average officer efficiency report these days can
cashier a career). So the lowly captain base vet really needs a lot of
conviction to buck the system and take an unpopular stance before the base
commander (often his rater).
In 1985, I legalized ferret ownership on Ft. Meade (which may have been
reversed by the next veterinarian or base commander, I don't know.) So the
vet has the power to do it, but he has to really want to.
Another possibility is a waiver, if you live in base housing. This goes
through the same people, but it doesn't open up a whole can of worms for the
base vet and commander. They may be more likely to grant it than change a
base regulation. If you live in base housing and have children, try for the
"losing our pet would destroy the happiness of the family and the morale of
the soldier" scenario.
Finally, don't rush into everything. Before you see the base vet,
compile your bite statistics, rabies statistics, everything. At least your
vet knows that vaccinations exist for these animals, that's more than a lot
Bruce H. Williams, DVM Dept. of Veterinary Pathology
Chief Pathologist, AccuPath Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
[log in to unmask] Washington, D.C. 20306-6000
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[Posted in FML issue 1241]