A committee that helps the state Health Department decide whether research facilities should get pound animals apparently has never asked to look at the reports of federal inspections of those facilities _ before this week.
And it's going to have to file a federal Freedom of Information Act request to do so now.
"It's a new situation," Lamar Farnsworth, chairman of the Impounded Animals Advisory Committee, said Friday after member Lynn Bradak asked to review the reports before voting to certify seven facilities to use cats and dogs for another year.
Farnsworth said that in the past, the committee hasn't asked to to see the reports before voting, and sometimes members haven't even met to vote _ they've done it by mail.
"Apparently the committee has rubber-stamped for a long time," said Bradak. Her seat on the panel was added just over a year ago after an animal welfare group complained that those interests, as well as animal control interests, were unrepresented.
The seven facilities requiring recertification this year are at Utah State University, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Weber State College, the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Primary Children's Medical Center and Utah Biomedical Test Laboratory Inc.
Committee members were not sure if the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects the facilities, had completed this year's inspections, and Bradak said she does not want to recommend certification of any facility USDA hasn't checked yet.
Concern was raised that a delay might halt research, since current certifications run only until Jan. 1, 1989.
The committee's secretary, Dave Mendenhall, from the state Health Department, learned after Friday's meeting that the state will have to file a Freedom of Information request to get the reports from USDA.
Stanley Flora, area veterinarian in charge for USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services Division, explained to the Deseret News that all requests for such reports must go through the formal legal process, which provides for specific response periods, disclosure exemptions and appeals.
He said that is not the case with much of the information USDA provides, but "our instructions are at this level that requests for these inspections must be channeled through the FOI office." But he doesn't expect the state to have any trouble.
Bradak and committee member Jack L. Taylor, director of animal resources at the U. of U., exchanged hostile words after Bradak questioned Taylor's ability to adequately supervise animal facilities at both the U. and Utah Biomedical Test Laboratory Inc. She asked how many hours he spent at each place.
"That's none of your business. There is adequate supervision. I go there twice a day," he said, referring to the private lab, where he is listed in the certification application as animal facility supervisor and also a lead researcher or instructor. "The work I do at UBTL is done on my own time, not university time, and there is no conflict."