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Letter: Man never had right to keep tiger as roadside attraction at truck stop via @theadvocatebr Leave a comment
There’s been much emotional rhetoric about Senate Bill 250, which would allow Michael Sandlin to keep his tiger, Tony, at his Gross Tete truck stop. The following time line may be useful to readers and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who will decide the animal’s fate.
1993: Iberville Parish Ordinance prohibits keeping wild animals as pets or for display. Despite this, Sandlin started buying, breeding, selling and exhibiting tigers at Tiger Truckstop.
2003: After numerous USDA citations for “unsanitary feeding practices, failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from inclement weather, clean drinking water and knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers,” three tigers were removed. Tony was left behind.
2006: Our Louisiana Legislature passed Act 715, requiring the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to enact regulations prohibiting citizens from keeping tigers as pets. They provided an exception for big cats legally owned before 2006 but required an annual permit from LDWF. Sandlin was ineligible because he and Tony do not live on the same property.
2009: Iberville Parish amended its ordinance to allow Sandlin to keep Tony if he met a number of physical conditions and was permitted by LDWF. Despite the fact that Sandlin was ineligible for a permit, the LDWF issued him one.
2010: The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with several Louisiana residents as co-plaintiffs, sued the LDWF for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit.
November 2011: Judge Michael Caldwell ruled that Sandlin was ineligible for a permit under state regulations and ordered LDWF to revoke Sandlin’s permit and not issue any new permits. ALDF filed another lawsuit demanding LDWF enforce the law.
April 2013: Louisiana Court of Appeal agreed with Judge Caldwell that Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to keep Tony.
Judge Caldwell’s original ruling that Sandlin cannot have a permit still stands. LDWF has agreed to uphold the law.
Last month, Sandlin garnered enough support in our Legislature to create a new law, just as he had the Iberville Parish ordinance amended, just for him. In my opinion, this is a last-gasp attempt by Sandlin to avoid and evade the law. He has never had the “right” to keep a tiger at his truck stop, as he claims. Creating a loophole for one individual has attracted national attention and makes Louisiana look ridiculous.
Tony is a pawn in this debate, but as a living creature, he doesn’t deserve to remain a roadside attraction at a gas station when he could live his remaining years free roaming at a big cat sanctuary. And, surely, Colorado is an environment much closer to his native Siberia than south Louisiana.
Hopefully, Gov. Jindal will veto Senate Bill 250. It’s the right thing to do.
Chris Green, Director of Legislative Affairs, at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was a recent guest on KSFR’s “Animal Talk” and discussed Tony case.
You can listen to the interview here: http://animaltalk.libsyn.com/animal-talk-june-13-2014-chris-green
Special Thanks to Chris & ALDF for their dedication to Tony and continued efforts for Tony’s release to a reputable sanctuary.
These are the links to the petitions to sign for Tony:
Sign these two Change.org Petitions:
@BobbyJindal VETO SB 250!!
LDWF: Enforce Louisiana State Law & Ensure Tony The Tiger Is Released To A Reputable Sanctuary:
Sign this Care2 Petition:
June 11, 2014 at 6:25 PM, updated June 11, 2014 at 11:53 PM
More than 38,000 people have signed an online petition asking Gov. Bobby Jindal to veto legislation letting a Louisiana truck stop owner keep his Bengal tiger as a roadside attraction.
A press release issued Wednesday (June 11) linked to the petition, which called for a veto of Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen. The legislation and Tony the Tiger’s situation has received national attention because of the involvement of animal rights groups.
BATON ROUGE – The State of Louisiana’s House of Representatives voted 67-26 in favor of a bill on Friday May 30, 2014 that would allow a Grosse Tete truck stop to keep an 550-pound tiger.
Senate Bill 250 will now go to the governor’s desk for approval and Gov. Bobby Jindal will decide whether to change state law in order to allow owner Michael Sandlin to keep the tiger.
At issue is whether a licensed owner who obtained an exotic animal legally and has been in continuous possession and ownership since Aug. 15, 2006, should be exempted from state law that bans anyone other than colleges, sanctuaries, zoos, wildlife research centers and scientific organizations from possessing big exotic cats.
Sandlin owns Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete which has kept Tony the Tiger, a Siberian-Bengal mix, for the past 14 years since he was six-months-old.
Animal activists have long wanted the tiger placed in a sanctuary due to lack of alleged proper care of the animal.
“Allowing an individual to override court decisions and violate local and state laws in order to retain possession of a dangerous wild animal invites other would-be big exotic cat owners to come forward requesting their own exemptions to state and local laws,” Animal Legal Defense Fund’s media relations associate Megan Backus said. “Not only would this be a further waste of taxpayer money and a subversion of the legal system, but it would mean more animals suffering the way that Tony continues to suffer every day.”
ALDF is asking all supporters to send Governor Jindal a message urging him to veto SB 250.
There is a truckstop in the middle of rural Louisiana where a tiger lives. That sentence was an entirely true one — and just one part of the sad story of “Tony the truck stop tiger.” Surrounded by loud noises and fumes from diesel trucks that rumble through the station, Tony has long been the target of animal welfare advocates.
Sadly, news broke this week that the 13-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger will likely remain in his cage at the truck stop, despite a lawsuit brought against Tony’s owner, Mike Sandlin. Now, a bill to provide Sandlin with legal exemptions so he can keep Tony is creeping up the political ranks. Local WDSU News reports:
The House voted 67-26 Friday to send the measure by Port Allen Sen. Rick Ward, a Republican, to the governor. Ward’s bill would exempt Michael Sandlin – owner of Tiger Truck Stop and a 550-pound Bengal tiger named Tony – from state restrictions on owning exotic cats.
In addition to exposure to noise and diesel fumes, Tony is taunted by truck stop visitors. His enclosure lacks adequate enrichment. He has no pool of water to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of this stressful confinement, Tony constantly paces in his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. His suffering demonstrates the problem of privately-owned tigers, whose numbers exceed that of wild tigers.
Tony the truck stop tiger is kept in miserable conditions at a roadside attraction, with loud noise and constant diesel fumes constantly around him. Join us in calling for Tony to be moved from the truck stop to a big cat sanctuary to live out his life in a more natural environment.
Note: At the end of this article when you visit the direct link above, you can tweet to sign a petition, share on Facebook, etc. If you do not have a Twitter account, here is an alternative petition you can sign:
These two Action Alerts have been added to the post: Contact Gov. @BobbyJindal ~ Veto SB 250!! where you can find complete contact info for Gov. Jindal and action alerts to ask him to Veto SB 250.
Speak Up Now for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger!
Last Chance to Help Tony the Tiger!