Laissez Ferret

State allows ferret underground to weasel way around law

"If you took a live mouse and let it go, it would be interesting to see what that ferret would do," he says.

Legions of ferret owners continue to suffer willingly to keep these pets, mouse-killers or not.

One, who asked not to be named, hasn't told her neighbors about her two pets, lest someone rat her out. And she's avoided joining any of the Bay Area's handful of secret ferret societies. When you belong to a criminal underground, it's hard to know who to trust.

"If I were a cop who hated a ferret owner and wanted to get them, I would probably infiltrate," she explains.

Stanford law student Shawn Vietor, meanwhile, drove from the California border back to Louisiana during the dead of summer in 1997 after California agricultural inspectors espied her fiance's ferret cage atop their pickup truck.

"We didn't think quickly enough, we got to the inspection station, and the -- I don't know what they were called: border guard? -- he clearly knew what the cage was for," says Vietor. So Vietor and her fiance turned around, drove back to Louisiana, found a home for the ferret, then drove back to California again. They had a tire blow out in the Mojave Desert, and their fuel system failed in the hills east of Bakersfield. But the ferret was saved.

So does Vietor resent California's ferret narcs? Will she launch a ferret liberation resistance any time soon?

Not exactly. Vietor reacted the same way any self-respecting girlfriend -- or state government -- would when faced with the prospect of cohabitating with a smelly, needle-toothed, weaselly little beast.

"When they said we couldn't bring it in, I was almost relieved. I didn't like it much anyway," she recalls. "Those guys were so nice that I can't resent them at all.

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