Posted: July 1, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
© Courtesy of Ferrets At Heart
Ferrets Ayla and Codo are permanent residents at the ferret rescue. Codo is partially paralzyed, and Ayla watches over him.
© Courtesy of Ferrets At Heart
The Ferrets At Heart ferret rescue has helped nine ferrets since it officially opened a year ago.
The Ferrets At Heart ferret rescue celebrated its first anniversary on June 11, 2011. The ferret rescue began because, “I kept taking in more and more abused and unhealthy ferrets in my area,” said Lori Richardson. “I was ‘rescuing’ them, so I started calling my residence a rescue and providing other people opportunities to help in my efforts to save ferrets by adoptions, volunteering, and providing material and financial support.”
Since opening the ferret shelter, nine ferrets have been taken in and helped by Ferrets At Heart, and the rescue currently has eight ferrets. “We are constrained by space and resources. This is a very rural area,” Richardson said. “We are a small rescue. Our size is limited by my physical and visual disabilities.”
Richardson said that sidewalk fundraisers she ran for the ferret rescue outside a local grocery store in November and December of 2010 were a success. She sold pet supplies and holiday-themed stuffed animals. “On warmer days, [ferrets] Rhys, Winter, Codo and Charlie accompanied us and were a great draw, providing much opportunity for ferret education. Helping people overcome their misconceptions about ferrets is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.”
For details on the rescue’s most rewarding case, check out the “Meet The Ferrets” page for Ayla and Codo’s story at the rescue’s website. “Codo came to us partially paralyzed,” Richardson said. “Ayla would push him to food and water, even if that meant heaving him up ramps. She would stay between him and the edges of shelves, so he would not fall. Ayla would take her treats to her best friend. Now, Codo can shuffle, but all his legs do work. If only he didn’t have adrenal [gland disease] too.”
Sadness At Ferrets At Heart Ferret Rescue
Despite successes, the ferret rescue hasn’t avoided some sadness. Richardson said that two ferrets from a large-scale rescue of ferrets from a ferret breeding facility in Ohio a few years ago is one example. Although the ferrets Holly and Charlie don’t have significant health problems, their early life at the ferret breeder’s facility left its mark.
Holly was one of the older breeder ferrets. “She was kept in a tiny, wire-mesh cage outdoors for the first three years of her life in all weather in southern Ohio. If Holly is a bit jumpy and skittish, it is understandable. Charlie is her charge. He is blind, and Holly cares for him like she must have cared for her own little ones once-upon-a-time. Don’t mess with Charlie, because Holly has teeth, and she can still poof! Holly still stresses out when someone that is not Charlie tries to cuddle too close.”
Educating People About Pet Ferrets
The Ferrets At Heart ferret rescue not only helps ferrets by providing a home, but also be educating others about ferrets. “People might be interested in the ‘Ferret GPS’ article about Rhys and Frost linked from the Meet the Ferrets page,” Richardson said. “I want people to understand that ferrets make great companions for people with disabilities. I should know; I’m blind and otherwise physically handicapped, but the ferrets don’t care about all that. Running my rescue is wonderful physical and emotional therapy, and the constant upbeat attitudes of even the most ill ferret keeps me striving. Ferrets accept me for who I am on the inside, and that is what someone with a handicap needs. The ferrets see us as “differently abled,” not “disabled.” If my legs don’t work right one day, necessitating that I crawl on the floor, the ferrets actually prefer that anyway!”