Ferret fun in the park

SHANNON VANRAES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

WINNIPEG (Sun Media) - Think you have nerves of steel? Try putting a live ferret down your pants.

That challenge was put to members of the Manitoba Ferret Association, who gathered in St. Vital Park yesterday afternoon to raise money for the non-profit organization's no-kill shelter through its annual "spring frolic."

"You have to see how long you can stand it for," explained Kelly Yager, a spokeswoman for the organization.

SMALL, COZY SPACES

Although Yager isn't a fan of tiny feet wandering over her legs, other ferret owners in the group said it's something they and their pets enjoy.

Yager pointed out ferrets are fans of small, cozy spaces. That tendency inspired other games as well yesterday, including a tunnel crawl.

But for the most part the ferrets spent yesterday afternoon just enjoying the shade, some beating the heat by hanging out in tiny hammocks suspended inside their cages.

About 30 people, including nine association members, and four ferrets took part in the event.

"They're very different. They are more playful than a kitten, they never grow up and they are curious," said longtime ferret owner Andy Van Loon.

He added the small mammals need more care than the average pet but can be allowed to roam about inside a home once it has been "ferret-proofed," which includes removing fabrics they might be tempted to eat and blocking small spaces they could become trapped in.

"Ferrets are wonderful, but they are not for everyone," said Deb Kelly, who runs the organization's no-kill shelter out of her North Kildonan home.

"I've always had dogs and cats but when I got my first ferret I got the best of both worlds," she said.

Kelly and her husband currently share their home with 17 of the furry animals.

She started the shelter about 10 years ago, shortly after the association was formed.

Four of the 17 ferrets are Kelly's pets, while some of the shelter ferrets are sick and in palliative care. The organization adopts animals out and also places them in "foster care" with association members.

Most people bring ferrets to the shelter because they are moving, having children or are simply tired of caring for them.


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