At her house on York Street in Taneytown, 51-year-old Gail Good is running a foster home of sorts.
Meet her family of strays. There's B. C., a bratty 7-year-old; 12-year-old Kitty Kin, a blue Abyssinian who was found hiding under the porch; the yellow tabby, Minicat, 13; 8-month-old Growl Tiger; the house slob, Fugly; Sylvester; and Kuroshro, an 18-month-old Japanese bobtail.
Their dog, Bear, also lives at home, and there's a human husband: electrician Dee Wilson, 51.
"To get any affection around here," he remarked, "I have to purr."
It's a happy home, Ms. Good and Mr. Wilson said in an interview in their living room last week, a room kept free of cat hair by Ms. Good's daily vacuuming. But the couple is worried that the Taneytown council could vote tonight to break up the family.
Ordinance 4-94 proposes to limit Taneytown citizens to three pets per residence.
If enacted, the proposal would turn Ms. Good and Mr. Wilson, with their seven cats and a dog, into lawbreakers.
"They certainly can't limit the number of children we have," said Ms. Good, who raised objections to the proposal during a city workshop last week. "Why can they limit the number of pets we have?"
Faced with this opposition, Town Council members appeared to back off the proposal last week. Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr. promised that the five-member council would drop 4-94 in favor of a minor measure that would impose no limits on pets and bring Taneytown animal control regulations in line with Carroll County law.
"I think we've realized that it would hardly be able to be enforced," said Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr., adding that he would oppose the three-pet limit. "If you're going to put those restrictions in, you have to be able to enforce them."
The couple, and nursing assistant Eleanor Mix, 53, their friend and neighbor, charge that the council tried to introduce the 4-94 ordinance without letting residents know its content through the town's official newsletter.
They say a government official eventually came to their homes to tell them about the proposal.
"It galls us when something like this happens," said Ms. Mix as she petted her 5-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Max, in the Wilson-Good living room.
"When you're in a position where you might have something to say about it, the council should tell you about the ordinance."
Ms. Good and Mr. Wilson said they are speaking out about the proposed ordinance because of their deep love for animals.
In addition to their pets, Mr. Wilson keeps about 50 Japanese carp, or koi, in a backyard pool. Ms. Good has decorated the home in a cat motif -- including a cat basket, a porcelain cat, a cat pillow, a Hungarian stone piece in the form of a cat, and white French lace curtains with cat patterns sewn into them.
Ms. Good and Mr. Wilson caution that they are not opposed to the regulation of pets. Both say, for instance, that they would support a law mandating that household pets be sterilized.
But the government should be careful about intervening in "family" matters, they warn.
"I don't think having a cat is any different than a marriage," said Ms. Good, as Mr. Wilson, sitting on the same sofa, smiled. "It's a responsibility and a commitment."