Posted: January 26, 2015, 3:55 p.m. EST
On January 22, 2015, one baby’s life changed forever. According to various news reports, Skyy Isabelle Fraim was strapped into a car seat and left alone in the living room of her home near Philadelphia while her mother and father, Jessica Benales and Burnie Fraim, were upstairs. The family’s three pet ferrets reportedly escaped from a cloth pet playpen and attacked the infant. She lost about 25 percent of her face in the attack, including part of her lip, cheek and nose. Video from an ABC station includes an interview with the infant's father and the police chief.
The baby is in stable condition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, according to the Delaware County Daily Times. The ferrets were euthanized and tested for rabies.
The Delaware County Daily Times further reported that Police Chief Robert Smythe stated the parents had four other children up to 5 years old, and each have special needs. He also stated that the parents are challenged and questioned their ability to care for the children. The house reportedly had a flea or mite infestation and very little food for people, although there seemed to be food for the numerous pets (including six cats, three ferrets and possibly others). The other children are now staying with family members.
On January 24, the American Ferrets Association, which promotes the domestic ferret as a companion and officially formed in 1991, posted a response to the current incident in Darby, Pennsylvania. Amid condolences to the family and all those touched by the event, the AFA stated its recommendations to keep ferrets in a secure cage.
Additionally, it states, "Under no circumstances should an infant or small child ever be left unsupervised for any amount of time in the same room as a ferret or other pet, whether caged or not. In addition, it is important to remember that, while abused or mistreated ferrets may, on very rare occasions, become aggressive, this is not characteristic of ferret behavior. Ferrets are sweet, docile, loving companion animals that are known to interact very well with small children with proper supervision.”
The AFA website also encourages people to view the following video in response to "the current media situation involving ferrets.”
Ferrets are members of the weasel family and have been domesticated for more than 2,000 years. The AFA website reports that the first universally accepted reference to ferrets was written by the Greek historian Strabo in 63 BCE. Ferrets are legal to own in most of the United States and are usually required by law to be vaccinated against rabies.
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