NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While the city mulls lifting a 15-year-old ban on ferrets, the sudden focus on the small, furry animals has made some horse and carriage advocates upset.

The city’s Department of Health is considering overturning the ban on ferrets after advances in vaccines have made ownership safer. A Brooklyn college started a petition earlier this year to lift the ban.

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But Ian McKeever, spokesman for the Horse and Carriage Association, said horses, unlike ferrets, are working animals that should be allowed to stay in New York City.

De Blasio has said he wants to ban horse-drawn carriages in the city and replace them with electric cars.

“I don’t understand why a ferret can be legal in New York City,” he told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “They [horses] have a job, so they are protected. They should be looked after.”

The mayor wanted to ban the horses during his first week in office, but said in April that he expects the City Council to ban the practice by year’s end.

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The City Council has not yet introduced the legislation on the proposed ban on horse-drawn carriages.

The city’s ban on ferrets was put in place under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s administration in 1999.

Ferret advocate David Guthartz, who faced off with Giuliani in a radio exchange in 1999, said he was concerned about the current proposal to lift the ban because it contains licensing, vaccination and spaying requirements.

“You’re going to make more problems for the ferret community than you can imagine,” he said.

A public hearing and comment period on the proposal to lift the ban will be held in the fall. It must then be approved by the Board of Health.

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