Flying squirrel has friends in high places

A flying squirrel is at the centre of Canada's latest high-profile deportation case. So far, Sabrina is winning, her lawyer said on Tuesday

A flying squirrel is at the centre of Canada's latest high-profile deportation case. And so far, Sabrina is winning, says her high-profile lawyer.

Mississauga man Steve Patterson brought the 90-gram, furry rodent named Sabrina into Canada from the United States in June. Now, government veterinarians want her out, citing a rodent importation ban, the Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.

"It's the cutest little animal," said Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby. So far, he has been able to convince the Federal Court of Canada to let Sabrina stay. "At the moment, it's 'Squirrel one, Canada nothing,'" he said.

The northern flying squirrel, or glaucomys sabrinus (Sabrina's species), exists in Canada, but is protected from capture by law. So the 51-year-old Patterson, who gives nature talks to children, bought one in the U.S. On June 26, he paid $150 US for Sabrina at Ratkateers Rodentry in Indiana.

Patterson filled out all the required forms when he crossed the border in the company of Sabrina, who he said had since bonded with him like a child with its mother.

But on July 5, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency contacted him with the devastating news that he'd have to give up Sabrina.

The CFIA in 2003 implemented a ban on importing rodents after a U.S. scare in which it was suspected some imported African animals passed on monkey pox to as many as 80 Americans. All those infected recovered.

No one has suggested that Sabrina is diseased. But Ottawa insists that rules are rules. Patterson continues to refuse to give her up and says he will fight for Sabrina to the end.