The Ethics of (Over)Breeding???

by Colin Jennings & Patrick Smith

The Tale of 23 'Dumped' Ferrets

The following two letters were sent to Mary Neale and then passed on to me for publication:-

Dear Mary

I thought the following story would be worth printing in the next newsletter as it shows just how cruel some people can be towards their ferrets. The story is written in two parts, the first is my end of the story and the second part is written by Patrick Smith.

About six months ago I gave my phone number to the RSPCA offering help with any ferret rescue in East Devon. At the time I jokingly said that I hoped they would not find me too many, to which they replied "No, we only receive about 2 - 3 a year" Well, you can imagine my surprise when I had a phone call from the RSPCA saying a jill and 13 kits had been found dumped in a sack beside the road and could I take them. One hour later another call stated that there were now 17 ferrets and could I still help, so I arranged to meet with the Inspector.

It turned out that the ferrets, now totalling 23, were found dumped in sacks by some boys playing on bikes in a lay-by near Dorchester. When they discovered what the sacks contained they fetched their mother who placed the ferrets in various boxes and baskets, and also rounded up the ones that had escaped. She called the RSPCA who then called me. I met the Inspector in a lay-by on the Devon/Dorset border about 40 miles from where they had been found. When I took a look into the back of the Inspector's van inside was every colour of ferret imaginable inside every type of box he could find. Two adult males, twenty-one kits of about 14 weeks old and a right old mixture of males and females.

I quickly got them home and placed them into the one available cage I had left, except the adult males who had to be kept separately, along with food and water. Some young albinos did not look too good but I put this down to the stress of the day's events and the heat. Who knows how long they had been in the sacks. They would surely have perished had they not been found.

Now came the biggest problem of all. What to do with 23 ferrets when all my cages and pens were full. I even had 3 albino kits living in the kitchen. It was time to start ringing round to see who could take some off my hands. The first call for help was to Pat Smith who put my mind, plus my nerves, to rest by telling me he would be down later with Colin Crocker and Sharon Mellish to take what they could.

By 8 o'clock that night they had arrived with various containers and, after a cup of tea, departed with all 23 ferrets lock, stock and barrel.

So, from me, a very big 'thank you' to Pat, Colin and Sharon.

Colin Jennings


Dear Mary

To continue from where Colin Jennings left off -

Arriving home at sometime about 11 P.M. Sharon, Colin, my wife Hazel and I carried seven crates of ferrets into our lounge. We had to decide who could take what. Colin took eight, all kits of varying colours, Sharon took seven kits plus one albino adult male and I kept one coloured adult male and six sorry looking albino kits who were the youngest and looked in a bad way. What to do with them and where to put them!

I had one small spare cage that I put the old hob in, and then had to move one of my old hobs (a rescue) and put him in with two other hobs and two jills (also rescues) and put the six kits into his cage. Two of the kits looked very sick and we thought they would probably die during the night, or what was left of it. They were too weak to eat or even drink, but when we took them to the vet's the next day, we were told they were basically O.K. but very stressed and one was in need of intensive nursing care if he was to survive. He had a couple of injections and we left armed with a tin of special diet food and a syringe.

While at the vet's I poked my left index finger at one little hob who promptly caught hold of the tip and was doing his best to eat it. I put my right hand over to get the lid off the box and my right index finger got the same treatment!

I had almost more attention from our vet than the ferrets, having the blood washed away and plasters put on both fingers. Big laughs by four vets, several nurses and office staff!!

Once home Hazel started two hourly feeding and drinks for the littlest fellow via the syringe. I'm not sure he appreciated the effort at the time, but in two days he had changed, was visibly stronger and beginning to feed himself. The other kits had also perked up and were becoming more lively and eating and drinking well.

All are now fit and bouncing around, the little hob is a poppet who is not going anywhere. To date we have found a good home in Taunton for two of the others, a hob and a jill, and the rest will stay unless equally good homes come along. Sharon Mellish and Colin Crocker are doing exactly the same as me, they have homed a few and the rest they will keep.

I must mention that Colin Jennings acted with some courage in accepting twenty-three ferrets from the RSPCA knowing he had nowhere to keep them himself. He phoned me at about 5.30 P.M. I phoned Sharon, who lives next door to Colin Crocker, and with no hesitation she said they would be down in half an hour (fourteen miles from me), and they were, complete with crates, and woollies and blankets for the ferrets.

Another example of three Area Coordinators plus Sharon and my wife working together and resulting in a 100% success story when it could easily have been a horrendous end to twenty-three of our furry mates.

Patrick Smith

P.S. A new non-stick frying pan my wife bought had written on the bottom "SUITABLE FOR ALL HOBS" - Food for thought?

(First published in N.F.W.S. Newsletter October 1996, Issue No 39)

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