Ten years ago, MaryBeth Stanistreet knew very little, if anything, about ferrets.
But one night in 1999, the paramedic was surprised when a ferret ran out of a bush and sat on her foot.
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"I took him home," she said. A week and a bit of research later, she had named him Chichi, was feeding him kibble, had gotten him up to date on his shots, had purchased a cage, toys and was walking him with the family dog.
Chichi had "won her family over," she said. As for Stanistreet, she was hooked.
Now the president of the Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa and Area, Stanistreet fosters 30 ferrets in her country home.
There are a lot of misconceptions about ferrets, said Stanistreet.
"They are not wild animals," she said. "They've been domesticated for over 2,500 years. They're wonderful pets. Cats can be indifferent and dogs can be needy. Ferrets require a lot of attention too, but once you‚re prepared and educated, everything is wonderful."
Sunday at McNabb Park, the Ferret Rescue Society of Ottawa and Area held its annual spring Ferret Frolic, designed to raise funds for ferret rescue, educate the public and current ferret owners about ferrets as pets and, of course, to give ferrets a little face time with others of their species.
Many of the hundreds of attendees had adopted their ferrets through the rescue, said Stanistreet.
One of the society's biggest fundraisers, the frolic is held twice a year and raises between $2,000 and $2,500 at each event. The society is a non-profit corporation and a registered Canadian charity, caring for unwanted, abandoned or abused ferrets, said Stanistreet.
Since its inception, the society has taken in over 380 ferrets and adopted out 266.