Officials ferret out solution

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Officials said a ferret in the custody of Clovis Animal Control is headed to the zoo if her owner cannot be verified.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A ferret at the center of custody battle will be calling Hillcrest Park Zoo home if her owner can’t be identified by Wednesday morning.

Clovis police Lt. Jim Schoeffel, who oversees the animal control division, said the zoo seems the most practical solution after six people came forward claiming to own a ferret found April 21 in a resident’s backyard.

“In lieu of maybe choosing the wrong person as the owner, I’ll put it in the zoo and people can go visit it,” he said. “The zookeepers have daily interaction with the animals … everyone in the community would have access to it and would be able to see it. They’re set up to care for animals long term.”

An unclaimed animal becomes city property after three days, according to city code.

It’s a difficult situation, Schoeffel said, explaining just because so many claimed to be the animal’s owner doesn’t mean they are lying.
It is the nature of ferrets to slip away from their owners, and the 1-pound, foot-long white ferret has no distinctive markings that would set her apart, he said, making it even harder to identify her.

Animal Control Officer Martin Martinez said of those who came forward claiming the ferret last week, none have returned with documentation.
Martinez stressed the situation is an argument for having a veterinarian implant a microchip in pets that identifies the owner.

“If they would have microchipped it, we would have found out right away (who the owner was),” he said.

There have been several calls from people interested in adopting her, Martinez said, but she can’t be made available for adoption if there is a question of ownership.

The zoo is the best solution, he said. “That way everybody gets to enjoy (the ferret) and you know the animal is being well cared for.”