For Immediate Release: 5/22/2022
Gerrie Schipske Calls on City Attorney to Release Euthanasia Records from Animal Shelter – Says She Has Asked the Veterinary Medical Board to Clarify Why City Can Release Records
Long Beach, California – In response to numerous animal advocates who have contacted her, Attorney Gerrie Schipske, candidate for City Attorney, today issued the following statement concerning the current City Attorney’s refusal to release public records documenting the euthanasia of animals held in the City animal shelter:
“The City Attorney is currently refusing to release veterinary records of euthanized animals at the Animal Control Shelter. The City Attorney has told animal advocates that the records will not be released for the 'greater good' even though State law is clear that such records are public.
The City Attorney is claiming the so-called “catch-all” exemption, found in Government Code section 6255. This exemption requires a strong showing that on the facts of the particular case, the public interest in withholding the record from public view far outweighs the public interest in releasing the record. This exemption is broad and undefined and is often improperly invoked by agencies when no other exemption applies.
The public has a legitimate interest in monitoring the activities of our animal shelter, particularly when stray dogs are at issue.
Shelters are required to keep records as specified under the California Food and Agricultural Code, section 32003. This section requires that medical record keeping requirements established by the Veterinary Medical Board and additional recordkeeping requirements listed in section 32003 must be met.
The law is clear: All public pounds and private shelters shall keep accurate records on each animal taken up, medically treated, or impounded. The records shall include all of the following information and any other information required by the California Veterinary Medical Board:
(a) The date the animal was taken up, medically treated, euthanized, or impounded.
(b) The circumstances under which the animal was taken up, medically treated, euthanized, or impounded.
(c) The names of the personnel who took up, medically treated, euthanized, or impounded the animal.
(d) A description of any medical treatment provided to the animal and the name of the veterinarian of record.
(e) The final disposition of the animal, including the name of the person who euthanized the animal or the name and address of the adopting party. These records shall be maintained for three years after the date the animal's impoundment ends.
The public should be allowed to review the veterinarian’s reasons for euthanizing animals at the shelter.
The City of Attorney also apparently made a claim that disclosing the records would place the contracted veterinarian at risk for criminal prosecution by State Veterinary Medical Board. Veterinarian-client confidentiality should not apply because the veterinarians are working for the city. The law applies only to veterinarians who see animals that are owned by someone else.
I have therefore sent an email to the State Veterinary Medical Board asking for further clarification of this issue.
I commend the City of Sacramento on posting and updating its animal shelter records online every two hours and as City Attorney will encourage Long Beach to do the same: https://app.powerbigov.us/view?r=eyJrIjoiMGQwNjM4YzgtZWQ5Zi00ZWM4LTk1NGEtZGFjODZhYjNjYTY5IiwidCI6ImUzN2UwMWYyLTU0MWItNGZmZC1iOGQ0LTc2YWVlOGI4YzA4ZCJ9.
Attorney Gerrie Schipske has over 32 years of legal, legislative, and administrative experience at every level of government and in the private sector. She and her partner have two adopted rescue dogs. #