Montgomery Co. cat owners pounce on leash proposal Protest: Owners speak out at a hearing on a proposal to ban the pets from wandering off their property.

September 25, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, but who knows how long that will last in Montgomery County?

The state's most populous jurisdiction is considering a law that would ban freely roaming felines. That has raised a howl of protest from cat owners who say you can't put Fluffy on a leash.

"I'm not getting into that cat fight," said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, co-owner of Zeus and Athena and originator of the legislation.

Holding owners responsible

Duncan said he asked for a major overhaul of the animal control law to give it some teeth, especially to hold pet owners more responsible for the bad behavior of their charges.

But the 81 pages of do's and don'ts extend the anti-roaming ban from cats that have not been spayed or neutered to the fixed variety, too.

"How is an animal control officer supposed to tell?" asked Duncan, who, for the record, has an open-door policy with his felines. "Many times when you pick up a cat, you still can't tell."

Twenty people signed up to speak at last night's hearing on the proposal.

Opponents say it is just another example of county officials with too much time on their hands.

But supporters, including the Montgomery County Humane Society and the American Bird Conservancy, say indoor cats live longer, as do the small wild animals they no longer could attack.

'I know where he is'

"My cat stays inside," said Linda Winter, who practices what she preaches as head of the conservancy's "Cats Inside" program. "I'm really happy. He's really happy, and I know where he is when I get home."

Barbara Duncan, wife of the county executive, winced when told of the contradiction between the Duncan proposal and the Duncan reality.

"They like the midnight run," she acknowledged. "I suppose someone will catch our cats on videotape in a neighbor's yard, eating a bird."

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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