Most of the ferrets you see in petstores are produced by Marshalls ferrets, a ferret mill that supplies most of North america. most of the animals produce are sold to medical research and teh remainder to petstores.
Documented Marshalls practices include;
- Systematic killing of breeding females: "Breeding females are kept...
for their entire reproductive lives. They produce litter upon litter
until their exhausted bodies wear out and then they are killed."
- Inadequate veterinary care: "USDA inspection reports include failure
to provide dogs with proper veterinary treatment. Clinical cleanliness
and invasive surgical procedures have also been cited as inadequate.
During one inspection, it was noted that technicians (not veterinarians)
were performing surgeries without using masks or head covers. The
inspector stated that a technician actually had long hair hanging into
the operating field... Outdated veterinary drugs have been found at
Butler Farms [owned by Marshall Farms] during inspections."
- Transport violations: "Marshall Farms has been repeatedly cited for
violating transport regulations. In 1991, Marshall Farms' shipping
conditions were so deplorable that SwissAir refused shipment of its
Deaths in shipping: "Transport conditions from Marshall Farms to the
pet stores are often so deplorable that many ferrets die or become ill
en route. In such cases, the pet stores merely ask Marshall Farms for
- Improper sanitation: "Urine, food, and dirt have been found caked in
the dogs' cages. Excessive hair and debris have been found in the
ventilating systems, cages, and ceilings."
- Inadequate space: "Marshall Farms animals are kept in spaces only big
enough for them to sit, stand, and turn around... Inspectors have found
many cages with numerous puppies illegally stuffed into them... The
[wire] ferret flooring was described as inadequate (ferrets were
described as 'swimming' across the floor to avoid discomfort), and such
flooring was still found at the facility three years after this
- Inadequate staff: "According to a recent USDA inspection report, the
[New York] facility houses approximately 53,000 animals. This translates
into more than 750 animals per employee. Even more shocking is that
Marshall Farms only employs one on-site veterinarian. When a facility is
so short-staffed, animal health and husbandry are the first to be
- Nonveterinarian-performed surgeries: "Two complaints have been filed
with the New York State Education Department's Office of Professional
Discipline... They were filed because Marshall Farms uses
nonveterinarians to perform surgeries on thousands of ferrets each year
despite the American Veterinary Medical Association's condemnation of
- Premature surgeries: "Marshall Farms spays, neuters, and descents its
ferrets at an extremely early age so that they can be shipped to pet
stores while they are still young and 'cute.' Veterinarians have
criticized this early surgery because ferrets often develop medical
problems as a result and die prematurely."
--- Deadly Fire ----
- Fire tragedy: "A terrible fire took place on Marshall Farms' North
Rose property on January 16, 1998, burning 151 pregnant beagles and 449
beagle puppies alive. A report by Peter Vallas and Associates, Inc.
described the origin of the fire as a result of the failure of a heating
pad where the power cord was connected. Further investigation revealed
that problems had been noted on such heating pads up to three years
prior to the fire, but Marshall Farms had neglected to adequately repair
or replace its pads... According to a Marshall Farms employee
interviewed by the Wayne County Sheriff's Department, a faulty heating
pad had caused a small fire only two days prior to the January 16
blaze... Evidently the deadly fire was not detected until it was too
late because the fire detectors had been carelessly blocked from the
main barn area by newly installed fiberglass panels."
- Environmental concerns: "According to neighbors of Marshall Farms, the
facility generates foul odors and loud barking that can travel for
miles, depending on weather conditions. Waste and feces wash into the
surrounding bodies of water during rains, intensifying the stench and
threatening wildlife habitats... One neighbor informed PETA that she was
once horrified at the sight of a pile of dog and puppy carcasses in a
rotting heap on Marshall Farms' property."
Although Marshall Farms Pet Products claims the company "cares as deeply
about your ferret's health and well-being as you do," PETA notes that
"the ads the Marshall family doesn't want the caring public to see are
run in LAB ANIMAL magazine. These ads prove that the ferrets and beagles
they breed are nothing more than commodities to them." PETA reports that
Marshall asserts, in the ads it places in LAB ANIMAL, that "All Marshall
animals are raised in elevated, indoor pens that simulate the laboratory
environment," while breeder continues "tracking all important
characteristics and genetic information and then weeding out undesirable
According to PETA, many of the dogs and ferrets bred by Marshall are
sold to be used in painful experiments which "typically involve the
introduction of a chemical substance in dogs, ferrets, or other animals
by forcing a tube into the animals' stomachs or through holes cut into
their throats. Chemicals may also be injected under the skin, into a
vein, or into the lining of the abdomen; mixed into food; inhaled
through a gas mask; or introduced into the eyes, rectum, or vagina.
Toxicologists then observe the animals' reactions, which can include
convulsions, labored breathing, diarrhea, constipation, emaciation, skin
eruptions, abnormal posture, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Anesthesia is not administered and dogs' vocal cords are often cut so
that barking and wails of pain do not disturb those conducting the
---- Practicing Surgery on Ferrets ----
In his letter to Philippe Gregoire, Prefect of l'Allier in Moulins,
France, Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D., president of Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine, complained both about the use of dogs and ferrets
in medical research and training - including giving medical students
live ferrets to use for "practice surgeries"!! - where humane
alternatives are available. He also aired specific complaints against
Marshall Farms in his June 7, 1999 letter, which states in part:
"Further, there are serious ethical considerations related to the
proposed Marshall Farms operation. Marshall Farms has time and again
failed to comply with even the very minimum housing and welfare
requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. This poor record does not bode
well for its proposed new facility in your prefecture. Animals sold for
experimentation are subjected to the stresses of shipping, continued
confinement, and lack of social interaction even before they are
actually used in the classroom or laboratory. When the minimum level
requirements for animal protection are not met, the stress and suffering
of the animals is even more extreme."
Please research this carefully and find a GOOD breeder or better yet, rescue a ferret! Often ferrets are abandoned, surrendered, or abused and the lukcy ones end up in a ferret shelter. They can be any age, colour and temperment and really need loving homes.
Ferrets were first breed 2000 years ago as ratters from european pole cats and cannot survive without humanes. More than once a ferret rescuer will come to the aid of an abandoned ferret to find it has died of starvation and the elements.
These are intelligent, playful, loving animals who deserve our respect and proper care. If anyone has any questions or concerns some links to check out would be;
Additional information, with pictures, is available from PETA on-line at
IFNS investigative reports concerning Marshall Farms can be found at the
Ferret Information Bank website, http://www.acmeferret.com/info_toc.htm.