SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The State of Indiana issued a scathing report against St. Joseph County and the Humane Society of St. Joseph County for breaking public records laws regarding animal control. The report stems from a complaint made by a local resident who was attempting to get information regarding frivolous reports being made about him and his property.
St. Joseph County has outsourced enforcement of animal control to the Humane Society of St. Joseph County, which is a private non-profit organization. The county and the Humane Society refused to produce documents to the public regarding the Humane Society’s involvement in handling actual government regulations. While private organizations are not typically susceptible to Indiana’s public records laws, there is an exception for organizations that are given the power by the government to enforce regulatory authority.
After receiving a formal complaint from the resident regarding St. Joseph County and the Humane Society breaking Indiana’s public records laws in May, the Indiana Public Access Counselor (PAC) opened an investigation. In a 7 page report, the PAC found the county and Humane Society were breaking the law.
“Based on the foregoing, it is the opinion of this office that the Humane Society of St. Joseph County is a public agency when performing the functions associated with a local regulatory ordinance. Therefore, its records germane to those functions are disclosable public records as if it were an intercounty agency.” Public Access Counselor, Luke Britt wrote in his report on August 16th.
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REAL News Michiana has chosen not to name the citizen who made the complaint, leading to the State investigation. However, he tells RNM he has still not received the documents he requested.
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