The lifting of New York City's ban on ferrets as pets -- in place since 1999 -- could still be "months away," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.
"We have not acted yet," he said at an unrelated news conference in Queens. "The Department of Health proposed a change. There will be a lengthy process to determine if that will actually come to pass."
De Blasio said he wants to seek public input on the topic.
The health department has suggested the administration consider reversing the ban, with restrictions.
In an internal memo obtained by The New York Times, the agency cited several arguments against the ban, including, "Evidence shows ferrets do not bite more frequently or severely than other pets the same size, though there have been cases of severe injury to unattended infants." A "ferret proponent" in January petitioned the board of health to lift the ban, the memo said.
The prohibition was instituted during former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's tenure, when the health department also began outlawing wombats, vultures, dingoes, pythons and other "wild" animals as pets. Giuliani in 1999 infamously told a pro-ferret activist who called into the mayor's radio show from Oceanside, "The excessive concern that you have for ferrets is something you should examine with a therapist."
Ferrets, members of the weasel family, are not banned by Nassau and Suffolk counties, which both have included them in recent rabies vaccination clinics alongside cats and dogs.
De Blasio tried to downplay the fate of ferrets on Friday.
"That decision is months away, so all it means is one agency has proposed the change," he said.