County Councilman George F. Bachman, D-Linthicum, raised one of the more pressing questions of our time at last week's County Council meeting: "Is there anything you can do about cats eating your plants?"
It seems the veteran councilman -- a self-proclaimed "dog man" -- has been getting complaints from citizens who are being tyrannized by traveling Thomasinas. "People are turning them loose at night. They're destroying new plants," Bachman said.
The council discussed a new proposed animal control ordinance last Monday. The ordinance raises dog license fees, creates a grooming parlor license, requires cat fanciers to register with the county and sets stricter standards for pet care.
But, Bachman complained, it doesn't say a thing about reimbursing people when cats eat their plants.
"We used to have something called triple damages," he said. "If someone's animal destroyed one of your plants and you could prove that that was the animal that did it, you could get triple damages."
That means that if the delinquent feline ate a $5 geranium, the victim would get $15.
Bachman mentioned the possibility of triple damages at the council meeting, but neither the other council members nor animal control officials seemed to pay much attention. Somebody said they'd heard of reimbursing citizens whose livestock was killed by stray dogs or other animals, but never of paying people back when their marigolds got munched.
"We had that at one time," Bachman insists. "Of course, being away eight years, I don't know if that was changed or not."
Plant-eating cats weren't the councilman's only concern; he was chock full of animal-related questions.
Shouldn't pet owners with extremely big dogs be exempted from having to provide doghouses big enough for the animal to stand up, lie down and turn aroundwithout touching the sides or top? he wondered.
"I know a man whohas a Great Dane. For him to put up something like that he'd have tocome down and get a building permit," Bachman said.
During a discussion on making outdoor conditions safe for pets, Bachman pointed out that you can only do so much. He said he used to keep his schnauzer, Fritzie, in a backyard run, but every time Fritzie saw a squirrel he went nuts, running around and knocking himself against the wire.
"That dog was fast. He was like greased lightning," Bachman said.
Alas, Fritzie's days of squirrel chasing are over. The Bachmans had him put to sleep recently because he was old and suffering from arthritis. "That dog made such an impact on our family," Bachman said. "Wedon't want another dog because we were really, really hurt when thedog left."
So how about a cat for a change?
No thanks, said Bachman, who has suggested that neighbors plagued by stray cats catch them with traps, then take them to the humane society. About 12 years ago, he said, he pushed a bill requiring licensing of cats, but cat lovers turned out en masse to say how much they hated the idea.
"Cats are all right. But I love dogs," said Bachman. He wondered aloud why felines seem to generate such fierce devotion. "They even had a musical uptown called 'Cats.' But they never had anything called 'Dogs.' "
SUSPECT TALKS LIKE NO FRIEND OF THE COURT
If you are ever summoned to court and hope the judge will give you a break, do not followthe lead of accused murderer John Lee Leonard Jr.
Leonard -- or Samad A. Taawwab-Bey, as he is also known -- is awaiting trial in the July 1989 killing of 21-year-old Reno T. Green, a former Annapolis High basketball star. Last week, Leonard appeared for a bond review hearing before Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner.
After a pre-trial services official noted Leonard, 41, has had no fixed address for five years and "has never been employed," the following exchange took place:Lerner: "Is there something you'd like to tell me sir?"
Leonard: "Just give me my bond or whatever you do and let me get out of here, man. It's as simple as that. I ain't gotta go through all this, man."
Lerner: "Oh, it's that simple?"
Leonard: "It's that simple."
Lerner: "I didn't know it was that simple."
Leonard: "That's howsimple it is, man."
Lerner: "You've got a pretty serious charge pending in this case."
Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone: "There are detainers in federal courts in California, your honor, and in the District of Columbia."
Lerner: "I mean, this is a murder case. Was there any bond ever set in this case?"
Paone: "I don'tbelieve so, your honor, and I'd recommend it stay that way."
Lerner: "Anything else you would like to tell me sir?"
Leonard: "Yeah,you give me a bail or not give me a bail, man, it's as simple as that. ---- all that other ---- you trying to talk about."
Lerner: "All right. Sir, when you come into this court, you'll use proper language. You understand that?"
Leonard: "Hey, ---- you. ---- you."
Lerner: "OK. You don't understand what I just told you?"
Leonard: "Hey ---- you."
Lerner: "There'll be no bond in this case."
Leonard: "---- you."
Lerner: "Let's go to the next case."