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The following are posts from The Animal Legal Defense Fund for Tony.  Our sincerest thanks to ALDF for representing Tony and for their tenacious efforts in fighting for Tony’s relocation to an accredited reputable big cat sanctuary.

About ALDF: For more than three decades, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law, ALDF has blazed the trail for stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals in every corner of American life. Today, ALDF’s groundbreaking efforts to push the U.S. legal system to end the suffering of abused animals are supported by hundreds of dedicated attorneys and more than 100,000 members. Every day, ALDF works to protect animals by:

  • Filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand the boundaries of animal law.
  • Providing free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases.
  • Working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes.
  • Encouraging the federal government to enforce existing animal protection laws.
  • Nurturing the future of animal law through Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters and our Animal Law Program.
  • Providing public education through seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts.

In addition to our national headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Animal Legal Defense Fund maintains an office in Portland, Oregon.

Website: http://www.aldf.org

ALDF:  This Is Who We Are (Note: Some graphic images in this video.)

http://aldf.org/tony

TonyUpdate: April 25, 2013: On April 25, 2013 the Louisiana Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling in ALDF’s case against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Michael Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. The Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Caldwell, holding that Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to keep Tony. With pro bono assistance from Baker Donelson, ALDF will continue to fight on behalf of Tony and the individual plaintiffs involved. More at: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2438

Update: February 19, 2013 by Animal Legal Defense Fund:  Attorneys for ALDF were in court on the morning of February 19, 2013 in Baton Rouge to defend our most recent victory, in which a district court judge ordered the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to hold Tony the Tiger in captivity. ALDF lawyers told the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal that the Department should never have issued a captive wildlife permit to Michael Sandlin, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop. The judges listened attentively to arguments from all sides, and are expected to issue their opinion in Spring of 2013. We will update our supporters as soon as we know their decision.

Update: January 24, 2013 by Animal Legal Defense Fund: On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 the courts will hear ALDF’s oral arguments in the appeal to free Tony.

From ALDF – November 29, 2012: Please see this  article from the Animal Legal Defense Fund for the current status of Tony’s case:  http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233

Note: There has still been no decision from the August 6th, 2012 hearing. We will post updates when they become available. Thanks for your continued support of Tony.

Update: June 27, 2012: From The Animal Legal Defense Fund: There is a hearing set for August 6 in Sandlin’s lawsuit against the State; the court will hear ALDF’s and the State’s exceptions, which seek to have Sandlin’s case dismissed. If we succeed, Sandlin may appeal. If we lose, the case will proceed to the preliminary injunction stage.

Sandlin’s appeal of our original law suit finally got a briefing schedule, so we’re expecting Sandlin’s opening brief in early July, with our response due later in July. No oral argument date has been set yet.

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1675

Update: May 14, 2012: From Matthew Liebman – ALDF Attorney: Making Sense of the Current Status of the Tony the Tiger Cases || Visit: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2053#

Update May 7, 2012: From The Animal Legal Defense Find: Good news! In today’s hearing in Baton Rouge, District Judge Janice Clark agreed that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two Louisiana residents can be parties to the lawsuit filed by Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. ALDF and the other interveners seek to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats. Thanks to today’s ruling, ALDF will now have a right to participate in all steps of the litigation as it moves forward.

Update May 3, 2012: In today’s hearing in Baton Rouge, the judge ruled ALDF’s plaintiffs lacked standing in our lawsuit to force the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban now that the Tiger Truck Stop and Michael Sandlin are keeping Tony the tiger without a permit, in open violation of state law. The judge also ruled that department has discretion whether or not to enforce Louisiana’s law banning private ownership of big cats at this time.

Over 50,000 of Tony’s supporter have signed an ALDF petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries over the past year, urging them to do their job—we’re all getting tired of waiting for the department to do the job it’s supposed to do and protect the best interests of both Tony and the public.

Today’s decision in no way affects the judge’s ruling that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop cannot be granted a permit to keep Tony. We fully expect that once all the legal proceedings relating to this case have wrapped up, the Department will do the job it is supposed to do and make sure Tony is no longer displayed without a permit. We are considering our options for appeal in today’s decision, and we are continuing to fight Michael Sandlin’s attempts to delay the inevitable day when Tony will finally go to a suitable forever home at a sanctuary where he can live out his days as a tiger should.

“The eyes of a disbelieving nation have been on this case for well over a year, says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We’re all wondering the same thing: why should Tony continue to languish at the Tiger Truck Stop, so many months after the judge’s ruling in our favor?”

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

Update May 2, 2012: via The Animal Legal Defense Fund: Two hearings are scheduled for the coming week in the ongoing case of Tony, the eleven-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger kept at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop.

On Thursday, May 3, the court will consider the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s most recent lawsuit against the Louisiana Departnent of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). The lawsuit, filed on April 5, seeks to force LDWF to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban now that the Tiger Truck Stop and Michael Sandlin are keeping Tony without a permit, in open violation of state law.

On Monday, May 7, the court will hear ALDF’s petition to intervene in the lawsuit filed by the Tiger Truck Stop and its owner Michael Sandlin against the state of Louisiana. Their case argues that Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats like Tony is unconstitutional—flying in the face of the current national sentiment that dangerous exotic animals should be more strictly regulated. ALDF’s petition in intervention supports Louisiana’s power to safeguard public safety and animal welfare through such legislative measures. An ALDF representative will be testifying at the hearing.

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

UPDATE: April 5, 2012: via The Animal Legal Defense Fund: ALDF Back in Court Demanding State Take Action on Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, Now Exhibited Without a Permit

After Baton Rouge Court’s Ruling Revoking Invalid Permit, ALDF Files Lawsuit Demanding Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Put an End to Owner’s Illegal Possession of the Big Cat

Baton Rouge, La. – This morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit to force the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban in the case of Tony, Grosse Tete’s “truck stop tiger.” Read more at: http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

January 30, 2012: Last Monday, Judge Caldwell denied a motion brought by Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop (TTS) that sought to suspend Judge Caldwell’s order while Sandlin and TTS appealed. Read more…

November 2, 2011: Great news from Baton Rouge, where Judge Michael Caldwell has ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Louisiana taxpayers in our lawsuit to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Read more…

September 20, 2011:
The court has scheduled two new hearings in the Tony the Tiger case. On October 17th, the court will hear the State’s exceptions, which challenge the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the case. On November 2nd, the court will hear ALDF’s motion for a permanent injunction to revoke the permit that lets Michael Sandlin confine Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop. {Note: October 17th hearing rescheduled to November 2nd, 2011}

August 29, 2011:
This morning, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are necessary parties to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit to free Tony the tiger and ordered a new trial in the case. In so ruling, the Court vacated the permanent injunction issued by the trial court that would have freed Tony in December. The decision means ALDF will need to amend its complaint to add the new defendants, then re-do the litigation thus far. While we disagree with the Court of Appeals’ ruling, this is just a minor set-back. We are confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will rule the same way when we go through it again with Mr. Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop as parties.

August 15, 2011: ALDF lawyers were in court today to defend against Sandlin’s attempt to get our case dismissed. In another victory for Tony, the judge denied Sandlin’s motion. This means the case will continue to move forward. The Court has set a hearing date of September 15 for ALDF’s motion for a mandatory injunction, which seeks an immediate revocation of Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony.

July 19, 2011: The Animal Legal Defense Fund  filed a motion for a mandatory injunction in June that would compel the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the current permit and seize Tony—meaning that Tony would not have to wait until December to experience his new life beyond the Tiger Truck Stop. Although this specific request was part of ALDF’s original complaint, the court did not rule on it at the hearing in May. A new hearing on the motion for a mandatory injunction was set for July 22, but has been postponed to a later date yet to be determined.

May 6, 2011: Victory for Tony! This morning, a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court granted the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, preventing the Department from renewing the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to display Tony. When the current permit expires in December 2011, Sandlin will no longer be able to keep Tony confined as a roadside exhibit at the truck stop where he has languished for over a decade. Read more…

April 11, 2011

The stench of fuel. The deafening sound of diesel engines. The neverending boredom of captivity and isolation. Such are the conditions in which Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, has spent every day and night of the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. It’s no life for a tiger, or any other animal. That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit in Louisiana, arguing that the permit that allows Tony to languish in a roadside cage violates state law.

Kristin Bauer, the actress who portrays the lovely-but-lethal vampire Pam on HBO’s award-winning True Blood, has teamed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the fight to free Tony.

Tony’s Tragedy
In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

Year after year of living at the Tiger Truck Stop have taken their toll on Tony’s health. The ambient noise from the nearby freeway and the idling trucks, their diesel engines spewing noxious fumes directly into his enclosure, is painful and obtrusive to an animal with such sensitive hearing and an acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has 16 years of experience with captive large cats and has visited Tony. “Based on what I have observed of Tony’s enclosure at the Tiger Truck Stop and his behavior from video and photographs, it is my professional opinion that this tiger is in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf,” she says.

ALDF’s Argument
On April 11, 2011, ALDF filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Sandlin to exhibit Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law which led to the ban on the private ownership of tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs.

At the heart of ALDF’s position is the fact that Sandlin’s current housing of Tony violates state and local laws. In 2006, the Louisiana state legislature unanimously passed Act 715, which required LDWF to control the private ownership of big cats. The department enacted regulations prohibiting citizens from keeping a tiger as a pet or exhibiting a tiger in the state. In passing these regulations, the department rightly declared that possession of big cats and certain other exotic animals poses significant hazards to public safety and health and is detrimental to the welfare of the animals.

The regulations provided an exception, however: individuals who legally owned big cats as of August 15, 2006, were grandfathered in. These owners would need to apply for an annual permit from the LDWF. An ordinance passed in Sandlin’s parish of Iberville in 1993 made it illegal for anyone to keep a tiger or other large exotic cat on his or her premises for exhibition. In other words, Sandlin did not qualify for the exception because he was not in legal possession of Tony. In addition, Sandlin is ineligible for the state’s grandfathering provision because he does not live on the premises where Tony is kept, contrary to regulations.

Despite the fact that Sandlin was ineligible for a grandfather permit, the LDWF nonetheless issued him one. ALDF is taking the department to court to invalidate this illegally-issued permit.—and free Tony from his troubled life at the truck stop.

http://www.aldf.org/tony

  • Petition Filed to Prevent the Renewal of Permit for Tiger Kept in Inhumane Conditions at Truck Stop

November 22, 2010

Animal Legal Defense Fund Urges Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to Revoke Illegal Permit for “Tony” at Iberville Parish’s Tiger Truck Stop

BATON ROUGE, La. – This morning, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a petition with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, requesting that they revoke, and deny renewal of, the permit allowing Michael Sandlin to exhibit a male Siberian tiger named Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Tony has been on exhibit at the truck stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) seized three other tigers from Sandlin due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Why are attorneys and activists up in arms about Tony’s tenure at the Tiger Truck Stop? In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also subjected to frequent harassment and taunting by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of confinement, Tony exhibits neurotic pacing behavior on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

ALDF’s petition argues that Sandlin’s existing permit for Tony, which is up for annual renewal on December 14, 2010, is in violation of both state and Iberville Parish ordinances. Further, the petition argues that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has no legal authority under Louisiana law to issue a permit for Sandlin’s possession of Tony, and that the Department’s granting of his current permit was unlawful.

“Mr. Sandlin’s failure to keep Tony in an environment that is responsive to both his physical and psychological needs is not only inhumane—it is illegal” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We urge the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to comply with already-existing regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and to end his daily torment by refusing to sentence him to another year of diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1533

Note: ALDF Response To LDWF Permit Renewal

The following is an e-mail received from the Animal Legal Defense Fund addressing the LDWF’s permit renewal to Mr. Sandlin. The ALDF petitioned the LDWF on November 22, 2010 http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1533

Many animal welfare organizations were contacted in regard to Tony’s situation, and we are grateful to ALDF  who responded and supported the efforts to relocate Tony to a big cat sanctuary.

Thank you ALDF for your support of Tony and for the time and research dedicated to Tony.  As the following email states, we look forward to your continued efforts in pursuing options in Tony’s case.

ALDF Email:

Thank you so much for your concern for Tony the Tiger, and for contacting the Animal Legal Defense Fund. We were very disappointed to learn that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries granted a renewal of Michael Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony. Sandlin is the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., where Tony is kept in unnatural confinement and is subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24 hours a day.

In November, ALDF filed a petition with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, arguing that Sandlin’s permit is in violation of state and local ordinances. Rest assured that ALDF is continuing to investigate our legal options with regards to Tony’s case. Sign up for enews updates from ALDF: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/signUp.jsp?key=16238049&Email to stay tuned on our ongoing work to free Tony.

Thank you for all you do for animals.

  • Lawsuit Filed to Free Tiger Kept in Inhumane Conditions at Truck Stop

April 11, 2011

Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary for Issuing Illegal Permit for Tony at Iberville Parish’s Tiger Truck Stop

Baton Rouge, La. – This morning, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Michael Sandlin to exhibit a male Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Tony has been on exhibit at the truck stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law which led to the ban on the private ownership of big exotic cats, including tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

Kristin Bauer, the actress who portrays the lovely-but-lethal vampire Pam on HBO’s award-winning True Blood, has teamed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the fight to free Tony.

Why are attorneys and activists up in arms about Tony’s tenure at the Tiger Truck Stop? In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

ALDF’s lawsuit argues that Sandlin’s existing permit for Tony, which Barham renewed in December 2010, violates Louisiana’s Act 715, a law sponsored by Triche and passed unanimously in 2006, and its implementing regulations, which ban the private possession of big exotic cats, including tigers. The complaint asks the court to invalidate the permit.

“Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and Secretary Barham has disregarded state law and misused taxpayer money in arbitrarily granting the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will keep fighting until Tony is no longer subjected to diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request. ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit www.aldf.org.

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1662

  • Kristin Bauer Takes a Bite out of Animal Cruelty

April 11, 2011

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF’s Director of Communications on April 11th, 2011

Kristin Bauer, the actress who portrays the lovely-but-lethal vampire Pam on HBO’s award-winning True Blood, has teamed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the fight to free Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has been living in isolation as a “tourist attraction” at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana for the past decade. Like Tony, “Pam” is a denizen of Louisiana (the hit horror drama takes place in the fictional town of Bon Temps) and a beautiful hunter of the night. In real life, Kristin is a long-time animal advocate who is biting mad over Tony’s cruel confinement.

In her video message to her feline-friendly fans, Kristin explains, “Tony is a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has been living on display as a tourist attraction at a truck stop outside Baton Rouge since 2001. In the wild, Tony might roam a territory of one hundred square miles. But for the last decade, he has instead lived in his concrete enclosure, exposed to the noise of diesel engines and the stench of gasoline.”

True Blood actress Kristin Bauer and ALDF have teamed up to free Tony.Kristin’s love for animals began when she was a little girl growing up on a Wisconsin farm, riding horses and taking in stray cats. Now in Los Angeles with her family of rescue animals, Kristin is an outspoken advocate on issues like animal testing, puppy mills, and animals, like Tony, who are exploited for human entertainment. “I can speak about animals in entertainment because I chose to be an entertainer,” Kristin explained in an exclusive interview with ALDF. “I have choice; an animal doesn’t. Can you imagine being taken from your home and forced into a job you’re not suited for?  It’s incredibly selfish to imagine that another being has to live a life he wouldn’t choose just to entertain me.”

Currently shooting season four of True Blood, Kristin explains that she is far from the only animal lover on set—“there are dogs everywhere! [The show’s creator] Alan Ball is a big animal lover, and half of the cast have dogs that they bring to the set, and it’s great. There are so many cute rescue dogs running around. One of the actresses has the most unbelievable cross-eyed dog! It’s one of the joys of being on the show–incredibly caring people, and animal lovers to boot. It’s amazing.”

Vampire Pam’s charms—with a bite—have won over a huge fan base, and Kristin is often asked by lovers of animals and True Blood alike what they can do to help. “I think people mainly are very caring; I think they just don’t know,” says Kristin. “And there is so much you can do. There are people working 60-70 hours a week—the true heroes, making things happen—and you can support them. You can go to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s website, aldf.org, and they have action alerts. You can sign petitions. You can support causes that are important to you. There’s a quote that I love that says, ‘All evil needs is for good men to do nothing.’  Every little action counts and matters.”

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1663

  • Leonardo Speaks Out For Tony: “We Need to Act Now”

April 29, 2011

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF’s Director of Communications on April 29th, 2011

leo aldfAward-winning actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio is the latest high-profile supporter to join the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s campaign to free Tony the tiger, who has spent the last decade at Louisiana’s Tiger Truck Stop.

Yesterday, Leo wrote to his 1.5 million Facebook supporters:

Have you heard about Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger living at a truck stop in Louisiana? This tiger has been living in a small inadequate and inhumane enclosure alone since 2003. We need to help the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows this. http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6207

The star of Titanic, The Aviator, and Inception also reached out to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, tweeting

Leonardo DiCaprio Tweets for Tony

On May 5, ALDF will square off against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in East Baton Rouge District Court over the legality of a permit that allows Tony, a ten-year old Siberian-Bengal tiger, to be confined as a roadside exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. ALDF is arguing that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin. Sign the petition to help free Tony today! And stay tuned all next week for updates on Tony’s case!

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1695

Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he has lived with no other tiger companions since 2003.

In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

On April 11, 2011, ALDF filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Sandlin to exhibit Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop.

Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the state of Louisiana to revoke the permit that allows Tony to be kept at the Tiger Truck Stop—a permit that violates both state and local ordinances designed to protect people and wild animals like Tony.

Sign the petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now!


Petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

I join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he has lived with no other tiger companions since 2003.

Tony has spent every day and night of the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop, where he is subjected to the stench of fuel and the deafening noise of diesel engines 24-hours a day.

What’s more, Tony is frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions.

Tony’s confinement is clearly inhumane — and, as the Animal Legal Defense Fund is now arguing in court, it is also illegal, as your Department violated state law in granting Michael Sandlin’s permit. Please follow the regulations already set by the State of Louisiana to protect members of the public and tigers such as Tony by revoking Sandlin’s permit immediately.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6207

  • ALDF Goes to Court for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger This Week!

May 2, 2011

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF’s Online Content Manager on May 2nd, 2011

It’s time to take action! The Animal Legal Defense Fund is delivering petition signatures to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries this week when we fight for Tony’s freedom in East Baton Rouge District Court on Thursday, May 5th. This is your last chance before the hearing to join the over 27,000 people who have already signed the petition in ALDF’s fight to get Tony moved to a reputable and humane big cat sanctuary, where he can live out his natural life free of the fumes, toxins, and noise that make his current life so miserable.

 

  • Attorneys Fighting to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Head to Court

May 4, 2011

Baton Rouge Court to Consider the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Lawsuit Against the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for Issuing Illegal Permit Allowing Tony to Be Kept on Display in Iberville Parish

TonyBaton Rouge, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents will square off against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in East Baton Rouge District Court over the legality of a permit that allows Tony, a ten-year old Siberian-Bengal tiger, to be confined as a roadside exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. In its lawsuit, filed on April 11, ALDF argues that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin.

When: Thursday, May 5, 9:00am
Where: East Baton Rouge District Courthouse, Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge

During Thursday’s  hearing, the court will hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary, where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes. The court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.

ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. This week, ALDF delivered to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries over 31,000 signed petitions urging it to revoke Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony. Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law that led to the ban on the private ownership of big cats, including tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department has disregarded state law and misused taxpayer money in arbitrarily granting the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We are heading to court to ensure that Tony is no longer subjected to diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request. An attorney for ALDF will be attending the hearing and available for interviews. Reporters attending the hearing should arrive in advance, as it is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1699

  • True Blood’s Kristin Bauer Talks Tony the Tiger in Exclusive Interview with ALDF

May 4, 2011

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF’s Director of Communications on May 4th, 2011

Kristin Bauer, the actress who portrays the lovely-but-lethal vampire Pam on HBO’s award-winning True Blood, recently teamed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the fight to free Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has been living in isolation as a “tourist attraction” at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana for the past decade. In her video message, she describes what makes Tony’s current life so miserable and urges people to take action.

“In the wild, Tony might roam a territory of one hundred square miles. But for the last decade, he has instead lived in his concrete enclosure, exposed to the noise of diesel engines and the stench of gasoline… Join me and the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the state of Louisiana to revoke the permit that allows Tony to be kept at the Tiger Truck Stop.”

We had a chance to talk one-on-one with Kristin about Tony and her concerns about his captivity. Check out this video of ALDF’s never-before-seen exclusive interview:

ALDF is going to court for Tony tomorrow! Join the over 28,000 people who have already signed our petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, urging them to revoke the permit that allows Tony to be displayed as a roadside spectacle at the Tiger Truck Stop.

Posted in ALDF Blog
  • Victory in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Lawsuit to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger

May 6, 2011
Baton Rouge Court Grants Permanent Injunction, Ordering Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to Stop Issuing Illegal Permit Allowing Tony to Be Kept on Display in Iberville Parish

TonyBaton Rouge, La. – This morning, a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court granted the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, preventing the Department from renewing the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger. When the current permit expires in December 2011, Sandlin will no longer be able to keep Tony confined as a roadside exhibit at the truck stop where he has languished for over a decade. The court also assessed costs against the Department in the case.

In preparation for the day the current permit expires and Tony is finally free, ALDF hopes to work with the Department to find the best possible new home for him, providing recommendations for reputable sanctuaries where Tony can live out his life in a peaceful, natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes that have plagued his life to date.

ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. This week, ALDF delivered to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries over 31,000 signed petitions urging it to revoke Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony. Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2001; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law that led to the ban on the private ownership of big cats, including tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“Today, the law was upheld in the state of Louisiana, which has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is an incredible victory for ALDF, the tens of thousands around the world who have supported this campaign, and most of all, for Tony. We eagerly look forward to the day that he leaves behind the noise and fumes of the Tiger Truck Stop for a new life of freedom that he has never known.”

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1700

  • Answers to Your Questions About ALDF’s Win for Tony the Tiger

May 6, 2011

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on May 16th, 2011

In the wake of ALDF’s recent victory in the Tony the truck stop tiger case, we’ve received a lot of questions about the ruling. ALDF staff attorney Matthew Liebman answers some of these questions.

Q: Why does Tony have to wait until December before he can leave the Tiger Truck Stop?
A: Michael Sandlin’s current permit is valid until December 2011. The court enjoined the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from issuing Mr. Sandlin a new permit when the current one expires. Although ALDF argued that the court had the authority and the obligation to order the Department to immediately revoke the permit, the court disagreed. The court directed the agency not to issue a new permit, but the current permit will stay valid until it expires in December.

Q: Is there anything that can be done to get Tony released sooner?
A: ALDF is looking at all of its legal options to determine whether further litigation could change the timeframe for Tony’s release. In the meantime, we’re encouraging our supporters to sign our petition urging the Department to revoke Mr. Sandlin’s permit. Even though the court refused to order the Department to revoke the current permit, the Department retains the authority to do so on its own if it chooses.

Q: Where will Tony go in December?  
A: Although ALDF asked for custody of Tony in our lawsuit, the court refused to award him to us. That means the decision of where Tony goes in December is out of our hands. But ALDF will do everything it can to recommend and promote Tony’s release to a reputable, established, and humane sanctuary that will meet all of Tony’s needs.

Posted in ALDF Blog

http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1711

  • Attorneys Fighting to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Head Back to Court for New Trial

November 1st, 2011

Court Will Rule on Standing of Tony Supporters to Fight for Him in Court, Will Once Again Decide His Fate

Baton Rouge, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents return to East Baton Rouge District Court to square off against the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., where Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, has been confined as a roadside exhibit for over a decade. The same court granted ALDF’s original request for a permanent injunction in May 2011, a ruling that would have prevented the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing in December the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display. In August, the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled that Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop must be named as defendants in the lawsuit and ordered a new trial, vacating the trial court’s earlier decision. In addition to this new trial, the Court will consider a motion by the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to contest the plaintiffs’ standing to bring the lawsuit to free Tony.

When:

Wednesday, November 2, 9:00 a.m.

Where:
East Baton Rouge District Courthouse
Room 8B (Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom)
300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge

Since ALDF filed its original lawsuit in April 2011, it has argued that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Michael Sandlin. In tomorrow’s hearing, the Court will again hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes and the taunts of visitors. ALDF is requesting both a permanent injunction, which would mean the state could not renew Sandlin’s permit in December, and a mandatory injunction, which would require that Sandlin’s current permit be revoked. The Court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.

Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund is confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will again make the best decision for Tony,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We would like nothing more than for Tony to spend this New Year’s in the comfort of an accredited sanctuary that is far better equipped to meet his basic needs and to give him the kind of life he deserves.”

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1859

  • Victory for Tony! Court Rules Current Permit Must Be Revoked

November 2, 2011

TigerUpdate
November 2, 2011:
Great news from Baton Rouge, where Judge Michael Caldwell has ruled in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Louisiana taxpayers in our lawsuit to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.

Judge Caldwell agreed with ALDF’s argument that the permit that allows Sandlin to keep Tony was unlawfully issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The judge ordered the Department to revoke the current permit and prohibited it from issuing any new permits to the Truck Stop. “We are thrilled that the court made the right decision,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will continue to do everything we can to make sure Tony’s next home is a reputable, accredited sanctuary that can give Tony the life he deserves.”

http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1859

  • What is Best for Tony the Tiger?

November 7, 2011

Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF’s Founder and General Counsel on November 7th, 2011

Tony is an 11-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger.

For most of his life, he has lived in a cage at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. He is a roadside attraction.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has sued to get Tony out of that cage. We hope that Tony can be sent to a sanctuary, where he can live out his life in a more natural environment. Last week, we won our lawsuit in the East Baton Rouge District Court. The judge ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries not to renew the annual permit that allows the truck stop to keep him in that cage, and ordered the Department to revoke the current permit.

Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop, thinks Tony should stay at the truck stop. He says that’s Tony’s home and that people like to come and see him.

Many Americans view wild animals as “specimens” to be kept in a jar and brought out for us to gaze upon. There is something inherently wrong with that assumption and, to the extent that we can get inside the mind of a wild tiger stuck in a cage in Louisiana, let’s look at this situation from the perspective of what’s best for Tony.

According to National Geographic, there are only about 400-500 Siberian tigers and less than 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild. These sub-species are critically endangered. “Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. They are powerful hunters that travel many miles to find prey, such as elk and wild boar, on nocturnal hunts… Despite their fearsome reputation, most tigers avoid humans…”

This is worth repeating: in their natural habitat, tigers travel great distances to hunt and they avoid contact with human beings.

In contrast, let’s take a look at Tony’s environment.

You can see a video of Tony in his roadside cage:

Look closely at Tony. Do you notice the way he walks back and forth? That is called “stereotypic behavior,” repetitive or ritualistic movement, such as pacing or rocking. This is abnormal behavior; it is not the way Tony would act in his natural habitat and it is a sign that something is very wrong.

According to experts, “(p)ossible explanations…include that carnivore pacing represents frustrated escape attempts (to forage, range, reach a mate, or for any one of a host of reasons)” or because species that usually roam over a wide range of land have been “rendered more dysfunctional by captivity…” “Stereotypic Animal Behaviour – Fundamentals and Applications for Welfare” (2nd ed.) – eds. Georgia Mason and Jeff Rushen (CABI, 2006).

Tony is not a play-toy or a stuffed animal or large puppy hoping to get someone’s attention. He’s a tiger and he has been denied the basic right to be a tiger – a wild animal living and hunting according to his natural instincts in his native habitat. Can anyone seriously argue that a wild tiger wants to be spend his entire life stuck in a cage at a truck stop, inhaling gasoline fumes and having to be in close proximity to the human beings his instincts are telling him to run away from? Seriously?

And, while we’re on the subject, there are thousands of other wild animals exploited in this way all over the U.S. Once again, if you look closely, there are visible signs telling us why wild animals should not be in captivity: the recent incident in Ohio, where dozens of wild animals were let loose by their owner and slaughtered by local police; Tyke, the elephant who broke loose after years of performing tricks in the circus. Tyke killed one person, injured several others and was thereafter killed on the streets of Honolulu; Travis, the “pet” chimpanzee in Connecticut who attacked a woman and badly mutilated her face;  Tilikum, the captive orca (killer whale) at Orlando’s Sea World, who has killed three human beings so far. These are just a few of the incidents that serve as wake-up calls that wild animals have no place in captivity. Wild animals are being victimized every step of the way – by being removed from their native environments, by suffering in a life of captivity and, if they manage to escape, by being summarily killed.

We want to do the right thing for Tony. He can no longer survive in the wild, but he can go to a reputable sanctuary and live his life with far more dignity and less stress. I urge public officials to stop ignoring the obvious and deal realistically with the problems caused by allowing individuals to keep wild animals in captivity: ban private ownership, sale, purchase, possession and custody of wild animals.

To find out what you can do to help Tony and others like him, visit:  http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/.

Posted in ALDF Blog

Posted November 17, 2011 by freetonythetiger

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