Davis County, PETA settle open records dispute

Davis County, PETA settle open records dispute

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- The Davis County Commission has agreed to pay the legal fees of an animal rights group after settling a lawsuit over animal shelter records.

The Standard-Examiner of Ogden said Wednesday that the county will pay $17,732 to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The money will cover a portion of PETA's legal fees for a lawsuit the group filed in January about animal ownership records at the county shelter.

The settlement protects the county from further litigation.

PETA filed the lawsuit after the county refused to provide the names of the previous owners of dogs that were donated for research.

They asked for the names in a records request, but the county shelter only gave the group a list of the donated animals. The names of the owners who gave the animals to the shelter were redacted.

County officials contended that the names were private. PETA said that the names were subject to state open records law.

Colleen O'Brien, PETA's director of communications, said in a statement that the group wanted the names of owners to demonstrate that shelter animals have names and personalities, just like pets.

About 100 cats and dogs were given to the University of Utah for research purposes in 2009, O'Brien said.

PETA members alleged in late 2009 that animals used by the university were treated inhumane. The university denied the allegations.

Chief Deputy Davis County Attorney said that until this year, state law required county shelters to offer animals to authorized research facilities, such as a university. The law was changed by the Legislature during the 2010 session so that shelters could provide research animals, but it was not required.

The county shelter stopped giving animals to the university in March.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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