|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
March 13, 2000
Mr. Hollis D. Young
Dear Mr. Young:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133186.
The City of San Antonio (the "city") received a request for the name and phone number of the owner of a dog that bit two of the requestor's relatives. You assert that the information identifying the owner of the dog is confidential under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 826.0311 of the Health and Safety Code. We have considered the exception you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information protected by other statutes. Section 826.0311 provides that
[i]nformation that is contained in a municipal or county registry of dogs and cats under Section 826.031 that identifies or tends to identify the owner or an address, telephone number, or other personally identifying information of the owner of the registered dog or cat is confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.
Health & Safety Code § 826.0311(a) (emphasis added). Here, the information you have submitted as Attachment II is identifying information maintained by the San Antonio Animal Control Division in its registry of dogs and cats. We agree that section 826.0311 makes this information confidential. Therefore, the city must not release the information in Attachment II. However, you have also submitted as Attachment III an "Animal Bite Report," which is also maintained by the city's Animal Control Division. We believe the information contained in Attachment III is responsive to the request. However, because the information is not contained in a municipal or county registry of dogs, the owner's identifying information in Attachment III is not confidential under section 826.0311, and you must release the information to the requestor
This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.
This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code § 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. § 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. § 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. § 552.321(a).
If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. § 552.3215(e).
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Carla Gay Dickson
Ref: ID# 133186
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Melissa Guerra