- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
- First Posted: May 05, 2011 – 4:00 am
Last Updated: May 05, 2011 – 8:18 pm
BATON ROUGE, La. — A judge says he will rule Friday on whether the owner of a truck stop west of Baton Rouge has a legal permit for a caged tiger.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr. sued Louisiana wildlife officials in April, saying they violated the law by issuing the permit for Michael Sandlin to keep a 10-year-old tiger as an attraction at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.
State District Judge R. Michael Caldwell heard arguments Thursday and said he would rule Friday.
The permit was issued in 2009 and renewed last year.
Sandlin and some animal advocacy groups have been at odds for years over his keeping of exotic cats at the truck stop. He currently has one adult tiger, Tony, in a concrete-floored cage just off a parking area.
A lawsuit filed April 11 contends that Sandlin was violating a parish law by owning the tiger, so he should not have been exempted from a 2006 state law against possessing tigers and other big cats. Triche wrote the law, which exempts people who legally owned tigers when the law took effect. The lawsuit also claims that people who have state permits to own tigers must live on the premises, and Sandlin doesn’t.
Sandlin, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, said last month that the parish ordinance did not apply to roadside zoos such as his. He also said his business is open around the clock so there is always someone on the property, which meets the intent of the residency requirement. Sandlin said he is prepared to move a trailer onto the property if need be.
Sandlin said he has been exhibiting tigers at the truck stop since 1988 and that they have always been well cared for. He accused ALDF of seeking publicity to raise funds at his expense.
The animal group wants Tony released either into its custody or to an accredited animal sanctuary without 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes.