|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 14, 2000
Ms. Karmen Binka
Dear Ms. Binka:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136244.
The City of San Antonio received two requests from the same requestor for copies of all pet licenses obtained by individuals who reside on a named street. You claim that the information is excepted from disclosure under section 826.0311 of the Health and Safety Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." Section 552.101 encompasses confidentiality provisions such as section 826.0311of the Health and Safety Code. Section 826.0311 of the Health and Safety Code specifically provides:
(a) Information 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.
(b) The information may be disclosed only to a governmental entity for purposes related to the protection of public health and safety. A governmental entity that receives the information must maintain the confidentiality of the information, may not disclose the information under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not use the information for a purpose that does not directly relate to the protection of public health and safety.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person distributes information that is confidential under this section. An offense under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by:
(1) a fine of not more than $1,000;
(2) confinement in the county jail for not more than 180 days; or
(3) both the fine and confinement.
You explain that the requested information is contained in a municipal animal registry under section 826.031. Therefore, we conclude that the identifying portions of the submitted documents are confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 of the Government Code. We have marked the information that you must withhold from disclosure. You must release the remaining portions of these documents 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.
Ref: ID# 136244
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mrs. Angelina Kretzschmar
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US