Mayor de Blasio's administration is considering repealing a 15-year-old rule banning New Yorkers from owning ferrets, the Health Department said.
The Giuliani administration implemented the ban in 1999 amid concerns the weasel-like carnivores posed a public health threat through the spread of diseases like rabies and because they are wild animals. Several years later, the Bloomberg administration agreed they should not be kept as pets.
But in an internal Health Department memo obtained by The New York Times, city health officials wrote, "Evidence shows ferrets do not bite more frequently or severely than other pets the same size," though they could be dangerous, particularly around babies.
City officials confirmed told the Times that they would advocate a repeal of the no-ferret policy, which does not extend statewide, as long as specific vaccination and spaying requirements are put in place.
Authorities told the paper they'd looked at several other cities where keeping ferrets as pets is legal and had not found many problems. They also said a rabies vaccine is now available.
Former Mayor Giuliani's apparent extreme distaste for pet ferrets was notoriously broadcast on his weekly radio show, when he told a ferret advocate protesting the ban, "There must be something deranged about you."
Giuliani told the Times Tuesday he had no "big ideological involvement" in the issue and that he had been incited by the ferret advocate.
The Health Department's board is expected to begin considering the proposal by the summer. It said there would be a public hearing and comment period before a vote.