Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

March 27, 2008

Couple wants to legalize skunks as pets

Dominique Durbin of Farina is raising quite a stink these days. After his wife found a litter of abandoned skunks and raised them for release, his brother decided a kit, a baby skunk, would be a great wedding gift.

Dominique and his brother, who lives in Indiana where domesticated pet skunks are legal, didn’t realize the law was different in Illinois.

“We tried to take Penelope to the vet to get her spayed. It was then that we found out that having her was illegal,” said Dominique Durbin. “If you are found having a domesticated skunk as a pet, there is a fine and the skunk is euthanized. If it wasn’t for the last part, we would have kept Penelope and you probably wouldn’t be hearing about this.

“Once you have the animal descented, which is a nonevasive procedure done early in the animal’s life, having one is a complete joy. It’s like a cross between a house cat and a calm monkey,” said Durbin.

The basis for the ban goes back to an outbreak of rabies cases in the mid-1970s.

It is Durbin’s belief incorrect information and public stigma is holding a lift on the ban.

“The biggest opposition is coming from a lack of knowledge,” said Durbin. “The cases of rabies are much less than they used to be, which any animal can get. If a responsible pet owner keeps their skunk indoors, they would be fine. You can go to the store and buy a fur-bearing permit for every animal except the skunk and coyote.”

In bringing the issue before state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Greenville, Durbin hopes to bring a breath of fresh air to the situation.

“I have to admit I wasn’t entirely sure of all the details of this, so I asked the research committee to get more information from wildlife experts and veterinarians,” said Stephens. “I am keeping an open mind, but I will come down on the side of reason. After all, because of the possibility of rabies, this is a public health issue.”

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