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Marshall Farms, based in North Rose, New York, is a commercial breeder of dogs and ferrets for pets and scientific research. Marshall Pet Products, a division of Marshall Farms founded in 1993, sells a wide range of food, toys, and other accessories for ferrets and rabbits.
Founded in 1939 by Gilman Marshall, the company is currently the largest ferret breeder in the United States. Ferrets from Marshall are commonly seen in pet shops across the United States, Canada, and (increasingly) Japan; they are also used in biomedicine laboratories, particularly in the fields of viral and parasitic diseases, cardiovascular and behavioral research, and reproductive endocrinology.
Pet ferrets originating from Marshall Farms usually have two small dots tattooed in the right ear, though this practice is not exclusive to Marshall. One dot indicates that the ferret has been spayed or neutered; two indicate that its anal scent glands have also been surgically removed.
The firm has come under criticism from ferret owners who claim that Marshall ferrets are more susceptible to early death from diseases and congenital defects, possibly as a result of inbreeding, genetic issues, and the practice of spaying and neutering animals at too early an age.
Other criticisms are directed at the health care and living conditions of Marshall Farms' breeding population. Some groups have accused large-scale breeders like Marshall of separating ferret kits from their mothers and sending them to pet shops at too young an age, sometimes before they are fully weaned. As a result, several states have passed laws raising the minimum age of ferrets transported by commercial farms; a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture submitted in 2004 seeks to make such regulations applicable nationally.
Animal rights groups such as PETA have attacked Marshall in the past for breeding animals for scientific and medical research. The firm was the subject of an Animal Liberation Front raid in 2001, in which it was claimed that 10 ferrets and 30 beagles were removed from the complex.