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"Get out of there!  Go on now, get," said Mrs. Donnelly to the rabbits.  It wasn't that Mrs. Donnelly disliked rabbits, she just took great pride in her garden and the rabbits were destroying her array of lush veggies and flowers.  While inspecting the latest round of destruction to her garden, Mrs. Donnelly cried out, "Oh my beautiful garden; it's just ruined."  
 
Mrs. Donnelly's outcry startled something in her garden as the last remaining heads of lettuce shook back and forth.  Mrs. Donnelly was startled at first, but knew this could be her last chance to finally confront one of the rabbits face to face. "Show yourself you ornery rabbit," said Mrs. Donnelly.   Mrs. Donnelly pushed the heads of lettuce to the side and was surprised to find a little skunk crying his heart out.  It was such a sad sight that Mrs. Donnelly ignored the danger of getting sprayed by the little skunk.  
 
"What's wrong with you? Why are you crying?" asked Mrs. Donnelly.
 
The little skunk wiped away his tears and said, "Aren't you going to tell me to leave because of the way I smell? Everyone else does!"
 
"Of course not," said Mrs. Donnelly.  "Anyone who would say such a thing isn't very polite; besides, your scent and spray is how you protect yourself."
 
"I know, but try explaining that to the other animals in the neighborhood. All day long I get teased by squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons.  Do you know the Chesterfields who live three doors down from you?" asked the little skunk.
 
"Yes, they're a very nice family," said Mrs. Donnelly. "Surely they don't make fun of you!"
"Oh they don't, but their cat is downright mean.  I guess if I had matted fur and fleas I would be mean too," laughed the little skunk.
 
"That's the spirit," said Mrs. Donnelly.  "A sense of humor is a good remedy for when you're feeling down. Pay no attention to that ole cat or the other animals who tease you.  They're not worth getting upset over."
 
"Thank you Mrs. Donnelly," said the little skunk.
 
"How do you know my name?"
 
"Every animal in the neighborhood knows who you are.  Your garden is legendary around these parts."
 
"That reminds me, I caught you eating in my garden too," said Mrs. Donnelly.
 
"I know and for that I am really sorry.  But the rabbits about polished off everything anyway."
 
Mrs. Donnelly just nodded with a smile and said, "What's your name my little friend?"
 
"My name is Skippy," said the little skunk.
 
 "Well, follow me Skippy," said Mrs. Donnelly. "I have an idea that I believe will take care of both our problems."
 
As Skippy followed Mrs. Donnelly into her house she talked passionately about gardening. She vowed her garden would be better than ever and promised Skippy all the food he could eat if he helped her tend to it.
 
"I don't know anything about gardening," said Skippy.
 
"Don't worry," said Mrs. Donnelly. "I'll take care of that."
 
"How am I going to help then?" asked Skippy.
 
Mrs. Donnelly was standing beside a large piano and wistfully stroked the keys with one hand.   "Do you sing Skippy?"
 
"Well, only when I'm in the shower."
 
"Perfect!" said Mrs. Donnelly. "That will do!"  Though Mrs. Donnelly was old and frail, she got behind her piano and moved it across the room.
 
"How on Earth did you move such a large piano by yourself?" asked Skippy.
 
Mrs. Donnelly laughed and said, "Oh wheels can make anything possible!"
 
Skippy looked under the piano and sure enough the wheels glided with ease as Mrs. Donnelly continued to push it across the floor.  She didn't stop pushing the piano until it was parked right next to her garden. Once the piano was placed there, Mrs. Donnelly and Skippy walked back inside the house.  Several animals in the neighborhood gathered around to discuss what was going on.
 
"I must be dreaming," said one of the rabbits. "Why is there a piano by Mrs. Donnelly's garden?  And what is Skippy doing in her house?"
 
"I don't have a clue," said an old and wise raccoon.  "This is most peculiar!"
 
At that moment, all the animals' attention shifted back to Mrs. Donnelly and Skippy as they approached the garden with a wagon full of flowers and seeds in tow.   Mrs. Donnelly took a small shovel from the wagon and started to dig holes throughout her garden.  She took the flowers and seeds and placed them in the holes.  Skippy tapped each hole with his tail to make sure the flowers and seeds were snug and then sprayed each side of Mrs. Donnelly's yard.  He ensured his spray wasn't too close to the garden, but close enough to give fair warning to any animal close by.  Mrs. Donnelly clapped her hands and motioned for Skippy to join her.  Skippy ran back as fast as he could and jumped atop the piano.  Mrs. Donnelly gave Skippy a wink and a smile as he set by her side.  She struck the keys of the piano with all of her might as she and Skippy began to sing:
 
"This is our garden, clean without rust,
Keeping it safe is surely a must;
Anyone trying to ruin where it lies,
Will feel the sting of skunk spray,
Right in their eyes."  
Over and over again they sang:
"This is our garden, clean without rust,
Keeping it safe is surely a must;
Anyone trying to ruin where it lies,
Will feel the sting of skunk spray,
Right in their eyes."
 
As Mrs. Donnelly continued to sing she placed a flower over Skippy's ear.  Skippy jumped off the piano with the grace of an Olympic diver and then flipped over on his back.  He smiled at all the animals that were looking on in disbelief; Skippy waved his tail at them and also dangled the flower Mrs. Donnelly gave him. It was a rose that Mrs. Donnelly had given Skippy. And no skunk had ever smelled so sweet.

 

**************************************************************

Why Have Critters?

Several people have asked me why have pets when it devastates you when one passes on?  I was just asked that question again after Jolie went to the Bridge.  How do you answer a question like that?  It seems some people just don't understand that the unconditional, uncomplicated love given by a pet is worth the pain of losing them.  I lost my cats a few years ago within just a few months of each other, one was 19 the other was 20.  Those two girls went through a lot with me and when their time came it was difficult to say goodbye but they had lived long, healthy, happy lives and it was their time.  When you lose a baby or young critter it seems so much worse, and in a way it is.  We all hope to give our babies as long a life as possible, sometimes God has other plans. 

 
Austin taught me that skunks are truly special and instilled in me a devotion and love for skunks as pets that will last the rest of my life.  Jolie taught me that I can love unconditionally.  Jolie didn't want to be petted and cuddled like Austin and Regan, but Jolie brought me back from despair after Austin passed.  She needed me and I needed her.  Jolie lived life on her terms, I worried that she was lonely because she didn't seem to need any more than a soft blanket and to be fed on time.   In retrospect I think Jolie was grateful for her forever home, she loved as well as she could and she loved to play and snuggle with Regan.  I will miss her dainty little stomps and her large, loud snorts. I will miss her quiet beauty and those expressive eyes.  I will miss watching her sort through her food bowl picking out her favorite foods first (she really loved those quail eggs).  All I can say to those who would ask why have pets...is that I am a better person for having critters in my life...and that is worth more than words can express.  The grief I feel is nothing compared to the love I give and receive, the lessons I've learned and the pure joy I've experienced as a result of loving furkids. 
 
Romp and play at the Bridge little Jolie, you will be missed here on earth and will be in my heart forever....thank you for saving me when I was so very lost. 
 
Mom

 

A writing assignment of one of our Skunk Folks!

The Junk Drawer    

       There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.  All the little odds
and ends that I find throughout the day end up in the junk drawer.  I thought today would be as
good a day as any to clean it out.  It¡¯s ironic that the first thing I spotted was my Pepe LePew watch. 
It has a picture of Pepe and Penelope on its face, and if you push the button on the side, it plays
¡°I¡¯m In The Mood For Love¡±.  Pretty silly actually, but let me explain why it¡¯s my favorite.

      Six years ago my husband and two kids packed up the motor home and headed cross-country
to Alabama to visit my relatives.  I had been trying to convince my husband that we needed a cat. 
He wouldn¡¯t even consider the idea.  I mentioned that since we were headed to Alabama how
about a skunk?  He laughed and jokingly said, ¡°Yea sure¡±.  Being the city boy that he is, he didn¡¯t
think it was possible.  That¡¯s how Cindy came into our lives.  We bought her from a breeder with
very little instructions.  This was going to be an adventure!

       Cindy could be as cuddly as a kitten and as unpredictable as any wild creature thrown into
the burbs could be.  We were told that they were ¡°corner poopers¡±.  Corner poopers?  As in
corner of the litter box we thought.  Nope, as in every corner of the house until she decides where
she likes her box. EEW!  She finally picked out ¡°her spot¡± and we picked out new carpet.

     Valentine¡¯s Day came around and again I couldn¡¯t think of anything for the hubby, so I got the
old reliable, cologne.  Expecting the same from him, I was so surprised when he gave me my
Pepe LePew watch.  That was the start of my skunk collection.  Now on holidays when other
people get perfume, candy or flowers, I get skunk figurines of all kinds.

     Cindy is now six years old and starting to slow down.  I got a call from a lady who said that
we share the same vet, she lives three miles away and she has two stinkers of her own. I thought
I was the only person quirky enough to have a skunk as a pet. Instant best buddy! She said she
did skunk rescue and asked if I would like to help.  Didn¡¯t have to ask me twice.  Next thing I know,
 it¡¯s 10 p.m. and we are on our way to pick up a four-week-old skunk.  It had been found in a ditch
after someone shot its mother and siblings.  It was barely alive.  I brought Chloe home to nurse her
back to health and eventually release her back into the wild.

     Cindy had been having trouble walking, so I took her to the vet for x-rays.  They confirmed that
she had advanced osteoporosis and was probably in some pain. I brought her home with pain
medicine and she was doing fine until the seizures started. The doctor said the pain was probably
 worse than he originally thought and said it could be triggering the seizures.  After a few days and
a few hundred dollars worth of tests, I had to make the hardest decision ever.  I had to say
goodbye to my little friend.

     Chloe was scheduled for release within weeks.  She had fattened up and had started to play
and run around.  Between the time and love it took to get her back on her feet and the loss of
Cindy, I couldn¡¯t find it in my heart to let her go.  So Chloe¡¯s here to stay and every now and
then when she¡¯s out playing at night, she reminds me of those two little words I¡¯d forgotten so
many years ago.  Corner pooper!  She¡¯s now in search of the perfect corner for her litter box. 
New carpet is eminent.

     As I close the junk drawer and put on my Pepe LePew watch, I am reminded of all the memories
behind it and wear it proudly with love.  The junk drawer will have to wait, I ran out of time.

 

[Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada]


The World Is A Stage by Laurel A. Beechey
We just returned from the 15th Annual and 1st International U.S. National Skunk Show. [Yes, I said Skunk Show and yes, they were all descented.] A group called Skunks As Pets [SAP] puts on this show, and it not only allows pet skunk owners to show off, but also provides the opportunity to promote, skunks as pets.
Many states, in the United States, recognize the difference between wild skunks and those raised in skunk breeding farms, which are also known domestic skunks. There are over 5 million pet skunks in the US. SAP also educates that skunks are not 'exotic' animals, as they are native to North America, where as dogs and cats are not.
Many people in this area have had, or know someone who has had a pet skunk. Most have no idea that it is illegal to do so unless you have special permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources, because the animal is 'unreleasable' and cannot survive in the wild. This is a good policy. Skunks have an important role in the wild controlling the rodent population and hold an essential position in our wildlife 'circle of life'. SAP actively promotes that wild skunks should not be taken from the wild for pets, however they also recognize and promote that skunks make great pets. 
They can do so, for fortunately in the United States there are skunk 
breeders, which are in essence, no different than a dog breeder. Skunks have been breed domestically for over 200 years and one of the most notable is Ruby's Fur Farm in IOWA, who began breeding skunks in 1932 first for the fur trade and in the last few decades as pets. Every spring they have approximately 1000 baby skunks, which are either picked up or shipped, around the world as pets.
Wisely, many US states allow farm breed skunks as pets and outlaw wild skunks. To be able to tell the difference, since a native skunk is black and white, the breeders have over the decade's breed their skunks to different colours and/or unusual marking.
Many wildlife rehabilitators, when searching for information on skunks, find the Skunk Lady of Georgia, Jane Bone, who is probably the world's most knowledgeable person on skunks and founder of SAP. She invited both Viv, from Timmins and I, to join her group, a while back and we decided to go to Cincinnati to meet her and see these multi-coloured skunks.  Can you imagine blonde, chocolate swirl, mahogany chip, smoke, confetti and white skunks? Really. They were absolutely beautiful. People brought their skunks from all over the US to be judged in colour categories as well as most beautiful tail, friendliest and most unusual markings. Viv and I were the International portion of the show and were judges for most 
talented and costumed skunks. You haven't seen anything until you see a skunk in a bikini and sun hat! Each skunk received points and could win ribbons in every category in which they were judged as well as accumulating points with the most points receiving the coveted Grand National Champion.  Viv and I are both authorized wildlife, rehabilitators and have MNR permits for our skunks but we were unable to take them to the show. U.S. customs required only a health certificate for the animals, no different than what is required for your cat or dog, however, because Canada does not yet recognized domestically raised skunks as pets, returning them to Canada would have required over $300 in permits and veterinarian fees and a quarantine period. They don't consider that there is a better chance that a dog or horse, which goes outside, to contract rabies than a pet skunk, which do not run loose outside. [They are kitty litter trained].  The National Skunk Show received a lot of welcomed public and media attention in Cincinnati. Some skunk owners were very generous in allowing people who had never cuddled up to a skunk, the opportunity to do so. They were all smitten.
A pet skunk is not the same as have a cat or dog, and like any other pet is not for everyone, but if a skunk chooses you as its owner it is an experience you will not soon forget. I can only hope that one day the Ontario government will recognize farm breed skunks as pets and that the Canadian Government will allow them to be more easily imported from the US, until Canadians can establish our own skunk breeding farms. For centuries many Canadians have had skunks as pets and it would be marvelous if it could finally be made legal.

Skunks As Pets crusader says it's the law that stinks 



07/11/01

KENT FAULK
News staff writer
Birmingham News

HAZEL GREEN -- Skunks are misunderstood creatures, Beckie Mills says. 

They may be known as smelly, aggressive creatures prone to disease, but Mrs. Mills said they're actually loving pets, almost like toddlers. 

"They are very curious into everything," the Madison County woman said as her de-scented pet skunks, Frankincense and Myrrh, prowled around her living room. 

Mrs. Mills' love of skunks is driving her crusade to change national and state laws regulating domesticated skunks. 

Nationally, there is no approved rabies vaccine or quarantine standard to allow domesticated skunks to be saved from euthanization when they bite someone, Mrs. Mills said. In Alabama and a few other states, skunk ownership is restricted and domesticated skunks are lumped into the same category as wild animals, she said. 

"Skunks get a bad rap," said the winner of the Skunks as Pets Inc. 2001 Aspen Award for efforts to improve domestic skunk laws. 

The award was named for Aspen, a skunk owned by Mrs. Mills that has become a rallying point nationwide in the effort to change anti-skunk laws. 

Aspen was the 1998 Skunks As Pets grand national champion. But in December of that year, Alabama health officials ordered the skunk euthanized after it bit a woman visiting the Mills' home. Tests later showed the skunk did not have rabies. 

States do not have a waiting period to see if a skunk is carrying rabies, as they do with cats and dogs, said Mrs. Mills, who is president of the Alabama chapter of Skunks as Pets. On rare occasions, state health officials will allow a skunk to be quarantined, but that's not set in any law. It's usually "automatic death" for a domestic skunk that bites someone, she said. 

Skunks are no more likely to carry rabies than other animals, skunk owners say. 

In the 200 years that skunks have been kept as domestic pets, there has not been a case of rabies, said Jane Bone, of Augusta, Ga., who founded Skunks as Pets in 1983. 

While that may be true, Dr. J.P. Lofgren, an epidemiologist with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said there is no data to establish a quarantine period for skunks. 

"Our priority in public health is to guard the humans involved," he said. 

The Health Department tested 13 skunks in 1999, and none tested positive for rabies; the year before, four of 26 skunks tested had rabies, Lofgren said. About one in seven skunks brought in for testing has rabies, he said, though he doesn't know if any of those skunks were considered pets. 

It would be difficult to distinguish between domesticated and wild skunks, Lofgren said. 

Rabies might not be a concern if there was a vaccine available for skunks, skunk owners said. 

After Aspen's death, Mrs. Mills and other skunk owners founded Aspen Skunk Rabies Research Inc., a Miami-based group dedicated to getting a U.S. government-approved rabies vaccine and a standard quarantine period for skunks. 

Mrs. Mills also would like to change an Alabama law that bans the possession, sale, breeding or importing of a number of animals, including foxes, deer and skunks. 

The state makes no distinction between domesticated and wild skunks, said Gene Houston, assistant chief enforcement officer for the state's division of wildlife and freshwater fisheries. 

"It's all considered the same thing," he said. 

The law is designed to protect the state's wildlife population from disease and parasites that could be brought in from other states by wild animals, Houston said. 

Anyone wanting to breed, sell or keep a domesticated skunk must get a special permit from a county conservation officer, Houston said. The owner or breeder has to prove he can take care of the animal, he said. 

When Skunks as Pets held its national convention in Huntsville in April it drew 400 people and 57 domestic show skunks organizers had to get a special permit. 

Mrs. Mills said she believes the state ought to draw a line between domesticated and wild skunks. 

Domesticated skunks have been de-scented. They are spayed or neutered to keep them from becoming aggressive. And they are given the annual dog and cat vaccinations, except for rabies shots, Mrs. Mills said. 

"These skunks are pampered. Sometimes they get better care than our children do," said the 44-year-old grandmother. 

 

THE SUN IN ANNE ARUNDEL  

January 24, 2001  

Baltimore, Maryland

State vet says animals are "reservoir of rabies"; official calls them "loving"    

By Sarah Koenig Sun Staff

The casual observer might imagine that almost everyone has the same impression of skunks: sweet-looking, stinky if provoked. But impassioned testimony yesterday on a bill to legalize domesticated skunks was proof that one man¡¯s loving pet is another¡¯s "terrestrial reservoir of rabies.

The bill, sponsored by Del. George W. Owings, III, calls for adding domestic skunks to the list of animals-which includes dogs, cats and ferrets-that Marylanders are allowed to keep as pets.

Initially, Owings, a Calvert Democrat, introduced the bill with a "by request" alongside his name, a sign that a lawmaker is trying to distance himself from doomed or slightly embarrassing legislation put in at a constituent¡¯s behest.

Yesterday, however, he told the House Environmental Matters Committee that he had made a mistake and he championed the skunk bill. He might even want one after his dog dies, he said. "The more I got into it," he said, "the more convinced I became that this is, in fact, the right thing to do."

Owings argued that legislators, fearing rabies, had once been reluctant to allow restaurants to serve deer meat or to allow ferrets as pets. "I¡¯m telling you to think of this in the same vein. A skunk is loving. It is potty-trained," he said.

Asked by a committee member how he knew the love of a skunk, Owings replied that he wouldn¡¯t unless the bill passed-which is unlikely, considering the Health Department¡¯s opposition.

The hearing, tucked between discussions of electric power plants and boat regulations, elicited sniggering and jokes.

But representatives from the state departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Natural Resources were not amused.

Mike Slattery of Natural Resources said the bill would encourage "Bambi syndrome," the tendency to try to domesticate wild animals. "We did hear Flower referred to today" he said, speaking of Bambi¡¯s fictive skunk friend.

State health officials said the bill was alarmingly flawed, since the Federal Government has not a rabies vaccine for skunks. The bill would require such vaccinations. "There could be a very disastrous situation between skunks and children," said Tracy DuVernoy, assistant state public health veterinarian, who repeatedly called the creatures "terrestrial reservoirs of rabies."

Skunk advocates dismissed those concerns. Since 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented one case of a human getting rabies from a skunk: it was wild and in Oklahoma. Besides, they said, the ferret rabies vaccine can be used on skunks.

Vicky Turner, an Owings constituent who requested the bill, noted that 23 states allow domestic skunks, which generally have their scent mechanism removed when they are 4 weeks old.

"Is that what they call "stinkers?" asked Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, a Baltimore Democrat.

"Scent glands," Turner shot back.

"He¡¯s from the city," explained committee Chairman Ron Guns, a Cecil Democrat, "They have rats. 

                                                                                                      

 

THE CAPITAL  

Annapolis, Maryland  

January 24, 2001

Skunk lover makes stink about pet limitations              

By Sara Marsh Staff Writer

Vicki Turner already has two dogs, two cats, three turtles and a bird. But state law won¡¯t let the Tracys Landing Resident have the pet she wants most-a skunk.

"I¡¯ve wanted a pet skunks ever since I can remember," the 35-year-old mother of two said yesterday as she took her case to a House of Delegates committee in Annapolis.

Mrs. Turner urged members of the House Environmental Matters Committee to support legislation sponsored by Del. George W. Owings, D-Owings, that would allow Marylanders to keep domesticated skunks as household pets.

We¡¯re talking about an animal that is loving, that is potty-trained," Mr. Owings said.

Under his bill, skunks would be added to the list of domesticated animals that are not considered dangerous to human health and safety.

Pet skunks-like dogs, cats and ferrets-would be required to get a rabies shot and could be quarantined for a period if they were to bite someone, according to the bill.

Skunk lovers argued yesterday that domesticated skunks-those raised in captivity by a certified breeder who removes the animals¡¯ scent glands when the baby skunks are 4 weeks old-make wonderful pets.

Domesticated skunks, like cats, come in a variety of colors and can be trained to use a litter box and kept indoors, supporters said.

Domesticated skunks were allowed as pets in Maryland until 1980, when they were prohibited after reports in 1977 that a rabid skunk exposed 10 people to rabies. Bill supporters pointed out that that skunk was wild, not domesticated.

Domesticated skunks, which have been bred for more than 200 years, are allowed as pets in 23 states, including Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Delaware and Virginia do not allow the animals as pets.

Many states also don¡¯t allow the familiar black and white colored skunk to be kept as a pet, even if it is domesticated, because of concerns that it looks too much like a wild skunk. It¡¯s illegal in the United States to domesticate wild animals because they can carry rabies.

But that concern about rabies is exactly why domesticated skunks should not be allowed as pets, opponents argued yesterday.

Spokesmen for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Natural Resources told committee members that no rabies vaccine has been approved for use on skunks in the United States. As a result, pet skunks would pose a health threat, they said.

But skunk lovers insisted that skunks can use the same rabies vaccine given to ferrets. They also stressed that domesticated skunks are not born with rabies.

"A skunk is no different to me that a ferret, a dog or a cat," Mr. Owings said, arguing that lawmakers had similar concerns before agreeing to allow ferrets as domestic pets.

But committee members, who joked about what constituted a "loving" skunk, seemed doubtful.

"I kind of feel if it ain¡¯t broke¡­" said Del. Robert C. Baldwin, R-Crownsville. "You¡¯re getting down to a very miniscule amount of pets."

But Mrs. Turner remains hopeful. The committee must approve the bill for it to move to the full House for consideration.

"You have wild dogs and wild cats," she said. "They¡¯re not even native to this country. The skunk is."

 

JANUARY 23, 2001       

Metropolitan 

Monday, November 13, 2000             The Washington Times 

MARYLAND 

Skunk lover raises a stink over ownership ban        

By David Abrams 
Capitol News Service 

ANNAPOLIS - Vicki Turner owns two dogs, two cats, three turtles and a bird, but Maryland law forbids her from owning the one pet she covets: a skunk. 

"I've always wanted one, but I can't get one because they're illegal in the state," Miss Turner said. 

Miss Turner wanted a skunk so badly that she started a petition drive to change the state law and successfully lobbied Delegate George W. Owings III, Anne Arundel Democrat, to introduce a bill in the General Assembly to classify skunks as Domestic pets. 

"I've been bugging [Mr. Owings] for three years about this and he finally agreed to file the bill," Miss Turner said. Mr. Owings confirms the account. 

"Well, I thought she was kidding at first," Mr. Owings said. He had no idea skunks were once legal pets, nor that they are illegal now.

 Maryland holds it's nose when it comes to residents keeping the critters as pets. A 1980 law banned skunks and foxes from being sold, bartered or traded in the state. The law was passed after reports in 1977 that a rabid skunk exposed 10 persons to rabies. Unlike with dogs, no vaccine is available to inoculate skunks against the disease. 

Miss Turner, a Lothian resident, heard that some people did own skunks as pets and decided to research the animals. She said she discovered that skunks are friendly, litter-box trainable and no more likely to get rabies than any other animal as long as they are kept inside. Domestic skunks, which are not captured from the wild, usually are spayed and surgically "deskunked." 

Mr. Owings gave in to Miss Turner's lobbying when she presented him with hundreds of signatures she gathered from his district. He pre-filed a bill to change the law for early consideration in the next legislative session. 

It would be a simple change, Mr. Owings said: merely adding skunks to the list of domestic animals in the same way ferrets were added in 1996 despite similar fears of rabies. 

Miss Turner enlisted national skunk specialists to help her cause. Jane Bone, founder of Skunks As Pets, Inc. has been rescuing sick and injured animals for more than 30 years. In skunk circles, she's known as "The Skunklady." 

Miss Bone, who lives in Georgia, said she encouraged Miss Turner to fight on, because the animal can make great pets. Because black and white skunks are illegal in Georgia, Miss Bone said, she owns skunks that are blond, white, gray and various shades of brown. "I have more than one skunk, but less than 100," Miss Bone said. 

It's a myth that skunks carry rabies, Miss Bone said, citing Centers for Disease Control studies reporting there is no true carrier of rabies. Animals can contract the disease only after contact with other rabid animals. 

Despite such evidence, Miss Bone said, some health officials are simply resistant to new ideas, but 18 states do allow skunks as pets, she said. 

"They are rabies-vector species," said Maryland Public Health veterinarian Clifford Johnson. "In other words raccoons, skunks and foxes are more likely to carry rabies." 

Mr. Johnson opposes a change in the law for two reasons: the lack of a rabies vaccine for skunks and the possibility that, as with dogs and cats, careless owners could expose domestic skunks to wild animals. 

There is a rabies vaccine that could be effective on skunks, said Brad Kessler, of Owners of Pet Skunks. A raccoon vaccine is being tested for applicability to skunks, Mr. Kessler said. Only one rabies case was reported last year after 9000 doses of raccoon vaccine were distributed around the Annapolis Neck Peninsula area. 

Mr. Kessler, one of 13 breeders in Pa, said skunks are popular pets in his state. More than 500 people subscribe to his organization's newsletter, Mr. Kessler said.

END of article

COMMENTARY of the Webmaster:

All too often, we see various veterinarians and even State Veterinarians who choose to set themselves against the Center of Disease Control, which is comprised of highly trained and highly experienced experts from all over the world.  Some vets even choose to ignore such august groups as the World Rabies Council, saying "They don't know what they're talking about."

Also, all too often, our beloved pets are either not allowed or, worse, are confiscated and MURDERED  under the guise of  "rabies-vector species" or even the trite "all skunks have rabies."  If  "all skunks have rabies".......how do we get baby skunks every Spring?

It is TIME for these scare tactics about the Domestic/Pen-raised skunk to STOP and time for those supposed "experts" to care enough to learn something new.......or it's time for those "experts" to be replaced!!

 

EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSES

Skunks as pets bring the sweet smell of success    By Jane Bone

If 30 years ago, someone said I'd be known as the Skunk Lady, I would have laughed. Skunks are among the most misunderstood animals in the world.  As a person with a disability, I feel akin to them.  I know what it feels like to be avoided because of the misguided notion of being able to "catch" a disability.  Preconceptions of this stripe are commonplace.  Misinformation about this unusual pet abounds and I made it my mission to open the public's eyes about domestic skunks when in 1983 I started the first skunk club, Skunks As Pets, which has grown into a nonprofit corporation with more than 5,000 members.  The first skunk show in the world was held on August 1, 1983 and the 13th National Skunk Show passed off successfully on March 18, 2000, in Port Orange, Florida.

Skunks As Pets (SAP) has grown by leaps and bounds. We work together helping both animal and owner.  Research on the medical and dietary needs and behavior of domestic skunks is ongoing.  We help find knowledgeable vets for skunks and support for their owners.  Some of the members give lectures and even have parties where owners can brag about their babies.  But let's face it:  Contrary to some stories, they cannot play a piano.  However, domestic skunks have been bred for more than 200 years, first for their fur and now as playful companions.

In the beginning I thought that all skunks were black and white, a la Pepe Le Pew, but domestic skunks come in almost every color but blue or green.  Hey, I am from the city and you know how city women are.  When I heard of a chocolate chip skunk that needed a home and first saw him, I did not know what I was looking at.  The skunk was brown and had four white chip-like marks on it's legs.  Then along came the blonde ones, the gray ones, the lavender ones and many shades in between.  But no matter how beautiful they are, it always comes back to the same thing.  Once I was giving a lecture about skunks at a pet shop and had my gorgeous albino skunk, Little Girl, with me.  Outside, a lady came up to me and said that Little Girl was the most magnificent cat she had ever seen.  She was stroking, loving, cooing and fussing over her.  The minute I told her it was a skunk, this same adoring woman began to back away, holding her hand up and shrieking, "It smells!".  To this day, I cannot understand how an animal can be adored one minute and reviled the next.

More and more people (there are an estimated 5 million skunk owners nationwide) are taking home cute, little, fluffy baby skunks, because they were told skunks are like puppies and kittens.  Many skunks suffer horrible deaths due to this kind of misinformation and impulse buying.  Working with universities such as the University of Georgia and skunk owners, I have slowly cracked the door to a better understanding of domestic skunks.  No, they are not for everybody.  I keep the sick, abused, injured or unwanted ones and I find homes for those that will make good companions.  I guess you could say I run a halfway house for skunks.  I took all of my experience and research and put together a book called Skunk Stuff or The Skunk Owner's Bible as those in the loop call it.

The biggest problem owners may have is the possibility of rabies due to the lack of an approved vaccine for skunks.  Domestic skunks need to come from reputable breeders, like Ruby Farms in Iowa, which has been raising rabies-free skunks since 1932.  The only way for any animal to get rabies is to be bitten by a rabid animal or to eat the carcass of one.  They are not born with it.  I may have many health problems, but the one health problem that I do not have is rabies, even after living with skunks for 30 years.  (Visit www.domesticskunks.com and sign the petition to help fight rabies.)

Living with my own disability and enduring the attitudes and misconceptions of a world that scarcely understands, I share a curious bond with my skunks.  There's more myth than medicine in the disability world and when it comes to skunks, the same problem exists, with wild speculation and pejorative connotations, applies.  I was injured at work in 1985 when an 80-pound box fell on me.  After the diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 1990, I now only have one quarter of my lung capacity.  I keep oxygen in my home and travel with a portable tank.  It's amazing to see how fast I can clear a room when I bring out my oxygen tank.  You'd have thought someone yelled "Skunk!"  Last time I checked, we all breathe the same thing.

A prime example of the misinformation pipeline--"You do not want to have skunks around small children.  The skunks will take your babies into the woods and raise them for their own!"  This is an actual statement made to me by a government official concerning skunk ownership.  It is surprising, if not actually frightening, to think that people we trust to govern this land can make such imbecilic remarks.  They give you permits to live with lions, tigers, cobras and bears, but not a skunk.  The mention of a skunk sends grown men running.

 

SKUNKS AS PETS, INC.                 

3315 LIMBER TWIG LANE                                

AUGUSTA, GA 30906

706-792-9737

May-June 2000

WE Magazine