PETA, Davis County make settlement

Apr 27 2011 - 9:34am

FARMINGTON -- The Davis County Commission has approved a $17,732 settlement with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for a year-old lawsuit centering around dogs and cats the county at one time supplied to the University of Utah for lab research.

PETA filed a lawsuit in 2nd District Court in January against Davis County alleging county officials failed to comply with the state's open-records law involving documents related to the animals the county sold to the university in 2009.

County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said PETA wanted names of the previous dog owners and the county's position was that information was private. As a result the county only provided the animal-rights group a redacted list of the transfers that did not include names and addresses of previous owners.

The settlement agreed to by Davis County resolves that PETA litigation by having the county pay a portion of the legal fees the animal group incurred to date, Chief Deputy Davis County Attorney Bill McGuire said.

The settlement agreement also provides Davis County with some future protection regarding litigation, McGuire said.

"In response to a January 2010 lawsuit and with a court date rapidly approaching, PETA is currently in discussions with Davis County to negotiate the release of intake forms and transfer records for the roughly 100 dogs and cats its animal shelter sold to the University of Utah for use in experiments in 2009," PETA Director of Communications Colleen O'Brien said in a prepared statement.

Last year, Davis County Animal Care and Control sold about 100 strays to the university for lab research, McGuire confirmed.

In November of 2009, PETA members accused university researchers of neglecting animals, obtained from Davis and other shelters.

University of Utah officials denied there was any abuse and that their labs are inspected frequently without warning or advance notice by state and national agencies.

State law formerly required impounded animals to be made available to authorized institutions, such as a university. But a change in state law in March of this year prevents Davis County from having to make animals available.

When the state law changed, the county make the decision not to transfer any animals to the university, McGuire said.

While Davis County laudably ended the "shameful practice" of transferring animals to the lab, O'Brien said, PETA sought access to county records to help show the public the homeless dogs and cats unlucky enough to be destroyed for lab research in the university's laboratories have names and personalities and are no different than the animals many people consider family.

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