PETA Files Lawsuit Over Texas A&M’s Refusal to Release Public Documents

Group Seeks Information on School’s Discussions About Closing Laboratory Where Dogs Are Bred to Suffer From Canine Muscular Dystrophy

For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2018

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

College Station, Texas

This morning, PETA filed a lawsuit that seeks to compel Texas A&M University (TAMU) to disclose records related to its colony of dogs suffering from canine muscular dystrophy (MD), as required by the state’s public-records law, the Texas Public Information Act (PIA).

On January 8, after a TAMU alum stated publicly that the MD dog laboratory would be closed, PETA submitted a request to the school under the PIA for copies of communications related to its discussions about the reported closure. TAMU initially referred the matter to the Texas attorney general seeking to withhold the information—but it then withdrew its request, claiming that the requested information was considered confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). PETA’s lawsuit contends that the records in question do not constitute protected “student records” under FERPA, so as a public institution, TAMU must release them. PETA is represented by the Austin firm Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody.

“Public records are crucial to citizens’ understanding of how their tax dollars are being used,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “We look forward to the court’s decision on this important case.”

Last month, the group filed a federal lawsuit against TAMU challenging the school’s use of a filter on its official Facebook page. The filter automatically deletes visitor posts and comments if they contain words such as “PETA,” “cruelty,” “lab,” and other terms associated with the campaign. PETA is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in that suit.

PETA has released video footage showing dogs in TAMU’s laboratories suffering from a crippling and painful form of canine MD that leaves them struggling to walk, swallow, and even breathe. Numerous people—including patients with MD, scientists, Lily Tomlin, Richard Linklater, Ryan Tannehill, and Bill Maher—have teamed up with PETA to speak out against the experiments.

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