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Penn. county orders dog license info released, with exceptions

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  1. Freedom of Information
A county in Pennsylvania plans to appeal a binding decision made by the state’s open government office last week that…

A county in Pennsylvania plans to appeal a binding decision made by the state’s open government office last week that ordered the release of names and addresses of county dog owners, unless the dog owner is also a public school employee, the Delaware County Daily Times reported.

The “oddly specific” decision by the Office of Open Records attempted to reconcile two conflicting legal provisions—the state’s right-to-know law, which presumes that records, such as dog licenses, are open to the public unless expressly exempted by law, and an August state court ruling withholding the release of public school employees’ home addresses.

The case began when Lauren Marks asked Delaware County for the names and addresses of local dog owners in four zip codes, in order to create targeted advertising for her dog-sitting business. The county denied the request based on the court decision barring public school employee addresses from release, reported the Daily Times.

Marks appealed the denial to the Office of Open Records, which has the independent authority to issue binding decisions on public records request disputes. Appeals Officer Lucinda Glinn said that the county must release the records, unless a dog owner is also a public school employee.

The county claims the determination creates a practical impossibility because the licensing information does not list the more than 11,000 dog owners’ employers.