Losing a pet is a terrible thing, especially a pet ferret. Ferrets are uniquely helpless in the open. They are so small, and they generally have no instinct to tell them where their home is. Not only that, unlike a cat or a dog, they imprint on food early in their lives. So they could theoretically starve in the midst of plenty because they don’t recognize items like trash, rodents, or songbirds as food. In addition, their bodies cannot stand temperatures over 90 degrees. So in the summer heat, they can easily die. And to top it off, many larger animals, like dogs or predatory birds, may see them as a tasty snack — and even if the ferret fights back and manages to survive, it may incur terrible wounds or diseases (like rabies) in the process.
Basically, finding your ferret friend is a race against time.
If your ferret becomes lost in the Portland, Oregon, area, you are fortunate indeed. Most, if not all, stray ferret calls in that city and in surrounding areas are handled through the Oregon Ferret Shelter. In fact, the local Humane Society won’t even keep ferrets, instead preferring to turn them over to private rescues such as the Oregon Ferret Shelter and the Cascade Ferret Network.
Recently, the Cascade Ferret Network has stopped accepting ferrets, instead referring people over to the Oregon Ferret Shelter (via their website at www.cascadeferret.org). So that really leaves only one option in Portland for stray ferrets to be routed: the OFS.
Here is the contact information for the Oregon Ferret Shelter.
Oregon Ferret Shelter (at the home of Chris and Dave Mathis)
17560 S Holly Lane, Oregon City, OR 97045
Telephone: (503) 557-8369
Chris Mathis, the owner of the Oregon Ferret Shelter, works tirelessly to find the furkids in her care homes — all approximately 200 of them. Nothing makes her happier then reuniting a ferret with their loving parent. So the first step in your plan should be calling her and letting her know you are looking.
Here are some things that you should get ready before making your call.:
* Have your contact information (name, phone number, maybe your email)
* Have a good description of your ferret: name, color, size, gender, age, unique traits (color spots, belly stripes, unusual colorations), unique habits (such as “likes to give kisses”, “clings to you when picked up”, and so on)
* Have the microchip number (if you have one)
* If you have a photograph of your fuzzy, get that ready too
After you have called the Oregon Ferret Shelter, use the information that you have gathered to create a “Lost” poster. Make sure that the picture you have chosen is a recent and clear one. Make sure that your poster has these elements:
* The word “LOST” across the top in a big font that can be easily read from a passing car
* The picture (if you have one)
* The word “FERRET” — people see dogs and cats all the time, but seeing a stray ferret is unusual
* Your contact information
You can include other descriptive information too, as long as you have included these important structural elements. Hang your posters in a large area around where you last saw your ferret.
Posting a Lost ad on Craigslist is also a good idea. However, you do have the danger of exposing yourself to scammers and bots collecting contact info. Make sure you spell out your email to thwart automatic email harvesting, as in “ferretgirl1066(at)gmaildotcom”. Other than that, it’s just a case of using your best common sense to weed out harmful, mean, and/or unhelpful responses.
Sweep the area yourself. Using a squeaker or the sound of a favorite toy, walk up and down the streets near where you last saw your ferret. Call out their name. You may feel silly as the neighbors watch, but it’s a technique that works. (You can also ask your neighbors if they have seen your ferret — the more people who are aware of your situation, the more people who can help you find him or her.) I found my little ferret by walking the local road and using a squeaker when she got out one dark autumn day years ago. If it worked for me, it could work for you.
In summary, don’t panic, but move quickly. Time is of the essence when you lose a ferret. Be proactive; get your information out there to your neighbors, to Craigslist, and to the OFS; and hit the street to search for yourself. Good luck!