Selling a car on the street is no longer against the law in Howard County, but possession of an unlicensed cat soon may be.
The Howard County Council last night unanimously repealed the county's prohibition against putting for-sale signs in cars parked on public streets.
An Ellicott City software designer -- and former lawyer -- successfully battled the law in Howard District Court in November. Administration lawyers later conceded it was poorly written and recommended its repeal.
"I think we have enough traffic rules and regulations," said Councilman C. Vernon Gray, an east Columbia Democrat, after the meeting.
With the for-sale sign issue settled, the council is turning its attention to a new issue: wild cats.
Democratic Councilwoman Mary C. Lorsung and Republican Councilman Darrel E. Drown last night introduced a bill that would require that all Howard County cats get licenses similar to ones already required for dogs.
Animal Advocates of Howard County, a nonprofit group, proposed the idea to control the population of feral cats and prevent the spread of rabies.
"We can't keep up with the way these cats reproduce," said Martha Gagnon, head of Animal Advocates. "They are unbelievable."
The new cat licenses, if approved, would be identical to the licenses required for dogs. The fee would be lower for cats that are spayed or neutered. Failure to license a cat would be subject to a penalty of $25.
For the licenses, owners of spayed or neutered cats would pay a total of $12 a year for all of their cats, no matter how many.
But owners of cats that are not spayed or neutered would have to pay $24 a year for each cat.
When cat owners apply for the licenses -- a process that would be handled through the mail -- they also would have to submit documents proving that their cats have gotten rabies shots, as required by law.
Gagnon said the cat licenses -- required by Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties -- would discourage the growth of the feral cat colonies throughout Columbia, Ellicott City, Jessup and Elkridge.
Drown, an Ellicott City Republican, said that dealing with the county's cat population is expensive. Howard's Animal Control puts to death 1,300 cats each year.
"I not only looked at it from the animal perspective," Drown said before the meeting.
"I also looked at it from the cost perspective."
The County Council has a public hearing on cat licensing scheduled March 17. The vote is likely to come April 7.
With Drown and Lorsung as co-sponsors -- two of the three votes needed for a majority on the five-member council -- the bill has a strong chance of passing.
But it has at least one opponent: Councilman Charles C. Feaga, a West Friendship Republican. "I'm not going to support a cat tax," he said after last night's meeting. "No, no, no," Drown replied. "It's a feline fee."
Pub Date: 3/04/97