Because the University of Utah (the U) still doesn’t want to ‘fess up about exactly how experimenters are tormenting and killing dogs, cats, monkeys, and other animals behind the doors of its laboratories, PETA has filed a lawsuit against the U for withholding records.
We originally requested the records—which the school is required to release under Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA)—following our 8-month undercover investigation at the U, but the school repeatedly sought ways to stonewall and delayed releasing the documents for nearly a year.
PETA persisted, and school officials begrudgingly turned over 1,300 pages of records related to the animals locked inside the university’s laboratories, but with much of the key information deleted. They also charged us $2,420 for the records. This attempt to keep PETA from exposing the truth is not only unethical but also illegal. Under GRAMA, if the university wants to redact any information in a document, it is required to cite a legitimate reason for every single redaction, which the U failed to do. PETA now seeks to obtain the complete set of documents and force the U to repay some of the exorbitant fee it charged for the redaction-riddled records.
PETA’s 2009 investigation revealed that, among other abuses, a cat had holes drilled into his skull and electrodes inserted into his brain; week-old kittens had chemicals injected into their brains, causing painful fluid buildups; dogs had their chests cut open and devices implanted on their hearts; and sick and injured animals were left to die with no veterinary care. The investigation led Utah to repeal an archaic law requiring animal shelters to sell homeless animals to laboratories for use in experiments. It also prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cite the U for violations of animal welfare laws.
You might remember that last month, we successfully settled a similar lawsuit that we filed against Davis County, Utah, in order to force the county to turn over its documents regarding animals its shelter had sold to the U. Our suggestion: The school should take a cue from Davis County, save itself some trouble and legal expense, and hand over the information, which the public has a legal right to see.
Written by Michelle Sherrow