This is Elmer.
Elmer was brought into the ferret shelter run by the Greater Chicago Ferret Association after he was found as a stray. Found on the sidewalk in the 90-plus heat, without food, water or shade for who knows how long. He had heatstroke, and was very close to death when he was brought in.
Elmer doesn’t walk, doesn’t move around much, and the veterinarians think he has neurological damage due to the heatstroke he suffered. All because somebody didn’t want him anymore.
At the shelter, Elmer’s been housed in his own cage, with clean food and water and the best and most loving care imaginable. He’s petted, fed by hand, talked to, even played with, albeit very gently.
The GCFA shelter is where I volunteer once a week, and it’s where two of our three ferrets (Stripe and Joey) were found, or rather found us. The shelter takes in ferrets of all ages and descriptions, all states of health, given up for all kinds of reasons, from allergies to moving to “my girlfriend doesn’t like it” (which, can I just say, ditch the girlfriend, keep the ferret). They do incredible work keeping track of a population of more than 100 ferrets in a space about the size of a small storefront, caring for animals with difficult illnesses and easing their bouts of homelessness with treats, attention and love.
More pictures of shelter ferrets inside …
A ferret is a hard animal to adopt to somebody who doesn’t already want a ferret. They’re complicated critters. They’re not cage pets, but they’re not as self-sufficient as a cat, either. They make messes. They eat expensive kitten food. They break things. Their vet bills are astronomical (as we’re now learning with Stripe) and pet stores that sell them to parents who want something fun for their kids often are more eager to make a $150 sale than they are to educate somebody about the appropriateness of a shrieking, wall-climbing 8-week-old crack squirrel as a stocking stuffer.
So the existence of a ferret-knowledgable place where unwanted ferrets can be adopted out and the ferret-curious can find resources is invaluable. Shelter ferrets, and I say this with all love for our pet-store baby, Fox, are the best, as most are litter trained and bite-trained by shelter volunteers (who have the scars to show for it).
There’s a network of shelters and ferret rescues and ferret clubs all across the country of which the GCFA is a part, subsisting mainly on the generosity of people who love ferrets and want to see them cared for by people who know what to do with them.
If you’d like to help keep ferrets like Elmer and twinkletoes up there, who is the biggest ferret I’ve ever seen by the way, the size of a puppy, in kibble and raisins, here’s where to donate. The shelter’s monthly vet bills are insane. Elmer alone cost more than $1,000 in visits and tests and medications, all to determine that there’s probably nothing that can be done.
Nothing, that is, except give him a place where he can be safe, and warm, and given ear-scritches a whole lot.