An animal rights advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit against Stony Brook University to force the university to release records on a dog being used in a research laboratory.
The California-based Animal Rescue, Media & Education filed in the lawsuit on Tuesday, Sept. 1 in the Suffolk County Supreme Court. The organization stated in the complaint that the university provided an “deficient” response to an open records request about the dog known as Quinn.
Animal Rescue, Media & Education, also known as the Beagle Freedom Project, launched an online Animal Finder tool in March that allows people to virtually “adopt” dogs and cats being used in research facilities.
“Adopters” can not actually take the animals home, but the Beagle Freedom Project sends participants template records request letters so that they can order the animals’ health records and care logs. The four dogs at Stony Brook that are listed on Animal Finder have all been “adopted.”
New York’s Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, allows the public to request access to records from government agencies, including public universities like Stony Brook. The university must also report their use of research animals to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The request for Quinn’s records was filed by Melissa Andrews, a Maine resident, on March 25. She named the dog, whose identification code is CEEMCF.
The complaint said on April 8, Stony Brook only provided five pages of Quinn’s records in response to Andrew’s request.
“Indeed, in response to similar or identical requests, other publicly-funded state universities, which are governed by the same federal requirements, produced far more complete records than what was provided by Respondents,” the complaint reads. “In many cases, these institutions have provided hundreds of pages of records for one animal.”
The complaint also said that Stony Brook improperly redacted, or blacked out, parts of those five pages.
Andrews filed an appeal on April 23 to the State University of New York FOIL appeals officer, who denied the appeal on May 8.
Lauren Sheprow, a spokeswoman for Stony Brook University, said in an email that the university is unable to comment on litigation.