Beagle Freedom Project (BFP), a national charitable animal rescue and advocacy organization, filed a petition for injunctive relief under the Freedom of Information Act against the University of Illinois in the First Judicial Court District Court in Cook County on Monday morning. The complaint alleges the University of Illinois has purposely misclassified records for the purposes of exempting them from public inspection, improperly redacting information, and misleading the public and legislature about the true nature and treatment of dogs and cats used in experiments.
According to the suit, “UI has been performing some very offensive publicly funded experiments on dogs and cats – experiments that is knows would enrage some segments of the public – so it does not want the records of the individually affected animals released.”
BFP and several other plaintiffs originally filed open record requests to the school as a part of the charity’s “Identity Campaign,” which seeks information on individual animals in labs in an effort to find possible candidates for post-experiment adoption. Most public universities have complied with these lawful requests and disclosed requested information.
The University of Illinois responded to these requests with several inapplicable statutory exemptions claiming the records reveal personal information, trade secrets, and law enforcement protection, amongst others. The University chose to ignore the opinion from Attorney General Madigan that these records should be released to the public.
Ryan Gordon, Counsel for Beagle Freedom Project, asserts “the public has a right to know how its tax dollars are spent at these schools and our non-profit seeks to identify potential post-research candidates for adoption. The University of Illinois’s fear of transparency is undemocratic and truly a death sentence for the victims of their experiments.”
One particularly controversial disclosed research protocol revealed that the school is killing beagle dogs simply if they do not cooperate with being restrained because of fear. This revelation contradicts testimony given by the University to the State Legislature in opposition to a bill that would mandate the post-research release of healthy dogs and cats, claiming no animals are euthanized unless required by the experiments.
“The University of Illinois has systematically been misleading the public, the press, and political representatives over the nature and extent of the experiments they perform on dogs. Today’s lawsuit will hopefully open the door to greater public accountability and help us find homes for a few of these survivors,” says Kevin Chase, spokesperson for Beagle Freedom Project.