"Can you do anything about cats eating your plants?" County Councilman George F. Bachman wanted to know during Monday's hearing on a new proposed animal control ordinance.
No, said Jan Worrell, administrator of the county's animal control office.
But the ordinance does regulate owners of 10 or more cats, require licensing of grooming parlors, raise dog license fees and set stricter standards for care and treatment of animals.
No one showed up to oppose the bill at Monday night's council meeting. "Any bill that encourages the welfare of animals is important and necessary," said Wilma Siegel, owner of Annapolis Pet Palace, a grooming parlor.
Council members, who will vote on the measure next month, also were supportive.
Though the bill does not contain major changes to existinglaws, it tightens regulations to ensure better treatment of pets. The bill would:
* Require people who own 10 or more cats to registerwith animal control officials and provide proof that the cats have been vaccinated against rabies. The cat registration would be free of charge.
Worrell said she has found people who keep 20 to 30 cats in the house. The registration is designed to ensure protection against rabies.
* Set standards for in-home quarantine of animals that have bitten someone.
* Specify treatment for animals that are kept outdoors. The bill details the type of shelter, length of rope or chain and sanitary conditions.
* Impose a $10 licensing fee for grooming parlors and set standards of care for them. Animal control officers said the fee would give them more power to inspect grooming establishments.
* Raise the annual fee for dog licenses. Licenses for spayed or unneutered dogs would rise from$7 to $10 and from $2 to $4 for other dogs. Elderly or disabled citizens, who now pay $1 for any dog license, would pay $4 for unspayed or unneutered dogs and $2 for other animals.
In other action Monday night, the council:
* Defeated two amendments to a bill regulating sand and gravel operations. The first would have limited fees to cover cost of regular inspectionsto $1,500 for operations of 49 acres or less and $3,000 for more than 50 acres.
As written, the bill, sponsored by Council Chairwoman Virginia P. Clagett, D-West River, says the fee must be sufficient tocover the cost of reviewing plans, specifications and inspections.
The second amendment would have exempted operations inactive for one year from paying fees.
The bill is expected to be approved next month.
* Introduced a resolution to appoint the Decennial Charter Review Commission, a five-member body that will update the county charter and redraw councilmanic districts. The commission is expectedto be named early next month.
The council also introduced a resolution asking the commission to study several controversial changes tothe way the County Council and county executive are elected.
The changes include staggered elections, limits on council terms and morerepresentatives.
* Delayed action on a major change to the pension law for appointed and elected officials. The council wants to raisethe retirement age for those officials from 50 to 60.
Though all seven council members support the change, they said they want more information before passing the bill.
Edward Atkins, chairman of the executive-appointed Pension Oversight Commission, said the commission supports the higher retirement age. "It's too generous at age 50," he said.
The bill would apply only to employees hired after Dec. 1, 1990.