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Cattery license vote may be whisker close

September 20, 2000

Cattery license vote may be whisker close



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Washington County Commissioners appear to be within one vote of rejecting or approving a proposal that would require property owners with more than eight cats older than six months to get cattery permits.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is still a semi-free county and if I want to have 10 cats I should be allowed to do that," Commissioner William J. Wivell said Wednesday.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz has also stated his opposition to the proposal.

If takes the votes of three of the five commissioners to approve or kill a measure.

A public hearing was held on the proposal Monday. The next step is for the Washington County Planning Commission to discuss the proposal and decide whether to endorse it, County Attorney Richard Douglas said.

It would then go before the County Commissioners, who must decide whether to adopt it, he said.

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Commissioner John Schnebly said the county should have a way to deal with problems when a property owner has too many cats. The proposed ordinance may not be the best way but it's worthy of consideration, he said.

The county is not going to start counting the number of cats property owners have, he said.

"We are not forming a squad of pet police," Schnebly said. "We are not inclined to do that. We don't have the money to do that."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said he generally supports the proposal although there are a few changes he might consider making.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger, who also is on the Planning Commission, refused to take a position on the issue since written public comments on the proposed zoning text change are still being accepted.

To state his position before hearing the rest of the public input would be inappropriate, Iseminger said.

About 30 Washington County cat owners attended Monday's public hearing to oppose the proposal.

Most of the people who spoke at the hearing said that the county should establish programs to encourage spaying and neutering of pets, not restrict the number of animals allowed in the homes of responsible owners.

Snook said he's amenable to a compromise: Pass the proposal but use the proceeds to pay for a spaying and neutering program.

Cattery permits, which would cost $20, could be obtained only by those living in approved zoning areas.

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