Don't be asking Santa for a holiday skunk - not in Connecticut anyway

So you were looking for that perfect holiday gift, maybe for someone allergic to cats and dogs, who’s been yearning for something snugly and cute.

And you thought to yourself, “Why not a skunk?”

Well, jump back Jack: It’s illegal to own skunks in Connecticut and has been for more than 30 years.

You want to own a skunk, you’re going to have to go to someplace like West Virginia or another of the 17 states that have legalized skunk ownership. (Although in West Virginia, you apparently can only own a West Virginia skunk. Immigrant skunks are forbidden.)

This information is detailed in a recent report by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research entitled “Possession of Skunks.”

The report was requested by state Rep. Linda Schofield of Simsbury, all in the name of faithfully serving the people of her district.

“I had a request from a constituent,” she explains, “a kid who emailed me from town and said he was allergic to cats and dogs and really wanted a pet, something warm and cuddly, something to snuggle with.” Schofield said her constituent had done some research of his own, thought a skunk would be ideal, and was dismayed to find out Connecticut had (except for zoos, nature centers and the like) outlawed skunk possession.

“He wanted me to change the law,” Schofield recalls. Wanting to find out why the Connecticut General Assembly had made skunk ownership illegal, Schofield naturally turned to the Legislative Research Office.
Which is how Janet L. Kaminski Leduc, a senior legislative attorney, came to write her multi-page report.

Turns out there’s a good reason why Connecticut officials banned the sale and possession of skunks: rabies.

The problem is there’s no known licensed rabies vaccine that works on skunks. The smelly (but very cute) little devils happen to be “a major rabies vector species in the United States,” according to the OLR report, along with

All of which means that, if a skunk owner happened to get bitten by his or her pet, the whole, lengthy, costly and often painful anti-rabies treatment for humans would have to take place, not to mention destruction of the offending skunk.

And so, in 1980, skunk ownership in Connecticut became an illegal act.
Now, there are those other states where you can have a skunk as a pet, but most (like West Virginia) have certain restrictions.

In Kentucky, for example, skunk possession is legal in some counties but not in others, and you need to have a permit and get your skunk from in “in-state breeder.”

The weirdest condition may be the one imposed by Georgia. According to Kaminski Leduc’s research, it is illegal in Georgia “to possess black or black and white skunks, but all other colors are legal.” (???)

And then there’s Wyoming. Dick Cheney’s freedom-loving, cowboy-ing home state allows you to own, possess, breed, herd and sell as many skunks as you want with “No special conditions.”

“Based on the report,” says Schofield, “I went back to this poor kid and told him I didn’t think he was going to get [a skunk] unless he moves to another state.”
She figures the chances of legalizing possession of skunk in Connecticut are slim to none.

“Unfortunately, as a legislator you sometimes have to disappoint your constituents with the hard truth,” Schofield says.

The life of a lawmaker can be filled with tough choices. You have to decide when and where to pick your fights, Schofield explains, and she just wasn’t ready to risk jumping on the skunk legalization bandwagon.

“It wasn’t something I felt I wanted to go to the mat over,” she says. “Fortunately, this kid understood.”