Rowe and other KitCat volunteers who attended the meeting, which was led by Mary Ellen Waltemire of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service, said building a shelter was their top priority.
A shelter is needed for the animal rescue service to operate at its full potential, said McMahon, who for 20 years ran McMahon's Mill Restaurant near the Potomac River in Downsville.
He and his wife closed the eatery in 1998, but reopened last July as McMahon's Mill Civil War Military & American Heritage Museum.
The couple have long supported no-kill animal shelters in other areas, and have adopted countless strays in Washington County, they said.
"There's no reason to kill them," Bill McMahon said.
He said KitCat - which provides medical attention, spaying and neutering and adoption services for strays - would like to establish a cooperative relationship with the Humane Society of Washington County.
Animals that run out of adoption time and risk euthanization at the Humane Society could be transferred to the KitCat shelter, where they could stay until they are adopted, McMahon said.
He and Rowe said they support a proposed text amendment to a county zoning ordinance that limits the number of animals allowed at a single, nonfarm location. The text change would basically exempt nonprofit agencies from having to comply with the ordinance, Rowe said.
She and McMahon also want the county to exempt animal rescuers."There's a lot of individuals like the McMahons who have been saving animals and keeping them at their homes for years," Rowe said.
A no-kill shelter is desperately needed to relieve such people who keep animals that have been saved at their homes, she said.
KitCat volunteers have rescued about 400 strays, including cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, even hamsters, and found homes for about 100 of these animals, Rowe said. She said the remaining strays stay with KitCat volunteers, who spent more than $10,000 on vet care last year.
Food, litter and medical expenses tally about $5,000 a month, Rowe said.
She has launched a membership drive to recruit more volunteers and raise funds for the organization. While some of the money could be used for shelter construction, she believes most of the needed materials and labor could be donated, she said.
KitCat & Critter Rescue Inc. can be contacted by phone at 301-416-2323 or via e-mail at KitCatxo@aol.com.