The New York City Board of Health voted on Tuesday to uphold the citywide ban on ferrets as pets. The board voted 3-2 in favor of lifting the ban, but four board members abstained, and the motion needed six votes to pass.

Board members who voted in favor of the ban expressed concern about bites, as well as ferrets getting loose in apartment buildings and running around in the walls. Ferret advocates, however, claim that fears about bites and escape are overblown, and note that actual Health Department complaints about ferrets are rare, with only four reported bites in New York City between 2008 and 2014.

Ferrets are legal in New York State, but have been specifically banned in New York City since 1999. The city government considers them wild animals, despite having been domesticated over for over 2,000 years.

(Photo: poppy)