Pat Wright loves his three ferrets – even though they do sometimes bite and he’s had to replace the baseboards in part of his house after they urinated for years along the walls – and he really wants them to become legalized as pets in California.
On Monday, Wright was anxiously preparing what he admits may be a quixotic campaign to legitimize Tiger, Bailey and Jethro after a decision on Friday by state officials in Sacramento to allow him to gather signatures to place a referendum on the ballot making it legal to own and import ferrets.
“Back in the mid-1980s, I lived in an apartment, and I couldn’t have a dog,” said Wright, who lives in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa. “I had two cats, but I wanted something more interactive.”
He drove to Yuma, Arizona, and bought Chester, a neutered male who has since died, from a breeder there, bringing the ferret back to California even though the state, along with Hawaii, is one of two in the U.S. that bans them.
Years of advocacy followed. He founded a pro-ferret organization, Ferrets Anonymous, and has been arrested for keeping them as pets.
Once, after a complaint that one of his ferrets scratched a child at a park, he went to jail for three months for(unadvisedly, he says) grabbing a kitchen knife in a panic to ward off police and animal control officers who had come to his door.
In 1998, one of his ferrets bit a cameraman at a…