Ferrets are this Everett shelter’s focus

From left, volunteers MacKenzie Carlson and Rachelle Myers and shelter director Vondelle McLaughlin hold ferrets for a photo in the Everett-based ferret rescue shelter.

From left, volunteers MacKenzie Carlson and Rachelle Myers and shelter director Vondelle McLaughlin hold ferrets for a photo in the Everett-based ferret rescue shelter.

EVERETT — The Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter that aims to adopt ferrets to loving homes while educating owners on the fundamentals of caring for a ferret.
Currently there are over 300 ferrets in the shelter’s fostering network. The ferrets are in large cages throughout the day but often get to roam around during playtime.
The volunteer employees not only have an extensive background and knowledge base of ferrets but they share a passion for ferrets as well. They describe their working relationship as a family bond.
“We are all very passionate here, the relationship we have here is like family… The things we have all been through together and we go through really rough times,” said Rachelle Myers, volunteer and ferret foster.
A big move was one. Last summer, the Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter relocated from Kirkland to Everett after struggling with the cost of rent. The new address is 6124 Evergreen Way. The building is a relatively good size for the location, providing lots of space for the rescues that come in. The shelter’s sign currently says Joy’s Clip and Dip due to a lack of funding but will be changed in the near future.
The volunteers described ferrets as “fuzzy Prozac” because they can always put a smile on your face. They also mentioned that ferrets are extremely devoted to their owners and regularly beg for attention.

Allison Ungren photo

Ferret foster Rachelle Myers cuddles one of the ferrets while inside the shelter last week.

“They get very attached to their people and that’s the other problem when people surrender them when they are four or five years old. They will literally stand there and watch the people leave,” said Cathy Johnson-Delaney, exotic animal consultant.
One of the biggest stereotypes about ferrets is that you need to bathe them regularly, in order to keep them smelling fresh. In reality you should rarely bathe your ferret. Ferrets have oil glands that get stimulated when you give them a bath, so the more you bathe your ferret the more these oil glands will be stimulated causing the ferret to have a stronger odor.
The rescue relies heavily on fundraisers and grants to keep up with expenses. The fundraisers can include springtime photos of your pet, not just ferrets, with homemade props and fun backdrops. Most of the donations received go towards medical expenses because the shelter deals with sick, diseased, special needs and disabled ferrets. The shelter would not be successful if it weren’t for donations.
One of the challenges of working at a rescue is handling the surrenders that come in. “This little girl ferret that we had, she was 7, and this guy brought her and her cage mate in. He was moving in with his girlfriend so he could only keep the dog or the ferrets so he kept the dog and brought us the ferrets. And she literally died of a broken heart, we would try to get her to eat and she would just clench her jaw and look at you,” said Vondelle McLaughlin, on-site shelter director.
The rescue does not charge individuals to surrender their ferrets. The employees describe how they always have the mindset that at least these individuals cared enough to bring their ferret in instead of dumping them.
If you intend to surrender your ferret because they are simply too costly or you don’t have the necessary knowledge or resources, then the shelter can work with you to keep the ferret in your home.
“If we can work with an owner to keep that ferret in that home and not have to come here,” said Johnson-Delaney. “We will work with the owner and if you need veterinary help or whatever we have ways, we have an angel fund, we have ways to help keep that ferret with their owner.”
If you have done the necessary research and decided that the ferret is the pet for you, you can submit an adoption application on the rescue’s website www.washingtonferret.org.
The rescue does not do same-day adoptions to be sure an owner is prepared and committed.
“The process of doing the adoption is getting them to interact with a ferret and feel more comfortable with them. While they are doing it they can think about questions they may have and ask questions. We can teach them how to clean ears and brush teeth and trim toenails. But I don’t let them leave same day,” McLaughlin said.
After recently moving locations the rescue has lost a lot of its volunteers resulting in the need for more support.
If you are interested in volunteering then you can send in an application on their website www.washingtonferret.org. McLaughlin describes that if you have little knowledge of ferrets but are still interested in volunteering then the rescue shelter is willing to teach you. Your heart must be in it and you must be willing to devote some of your time to training.
Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age. If the volunteer is under 18 then they must receive parental consent. Volunteer duties consist of scrubbing cages, doing laundry, washing dishes, scooping out litter boxes, bathing ferrets, taking pictures and more.
If you are interested in helping out this rescue or have a love for ferrets then you can make a donation on their website www.washingtonferret.org.
If you have questions about the adoption process or ferrets in general you can contact the Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter at 206-442-2025 or washingtonferret@yahoo.com.