6:30 PM, May. 7, 2012
NEW ORLEANS (WTW) — An animal rights group can join a lawsuit and fight a challenge to a Louisiana law that bars private ownership of big cats, a state district judge ruled Monday.
Judge Janice Clark said the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two Louisiana residents can be parties to a challenge brought by Michael Sandlin, who has kept a tiger for decades at his Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.
Sandlin contends the law is unconstitutional. He opposed allowing the ALDF and two others to become parties to the suit.
“Upholding Louisiana’s big cat ban will prevent untold harm in the future to other big cats like Tony, who deserve better than a sad life at a roadside truck stop,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF.
Sandlin’s attorney, Jennifer Treadway Morris, said she probably won’t appeal this ruling because it can be part of her appeal if Clark upholds the law.
Tony, a Bengal-Siberian mix, is the eighth tiger in 22 years at the truck stop. Sandlin and the truck stop company — Tony’s legal owner — argue that moving the tiger now would be cruel.
In November, state District Judge Mike Caldwell ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that let Tiger Truck Stop Inc. keep the tiger at the business.
He also prohibited a new permit, saying the agency had broken its own rule allowing only individuals to own tigers.
The department has appealed the November ruling.