Archive for the ‘Anthony Eliseuson’ Tag

Tiger Kept At Truck Stop For 17 Years Dies, But The Legal Battle Isn’t Over via Huffington Post   Leave a comment

By Hilary Hanson | The Huffington Post

The tiger at the center of a years-long legal battle between animal rights activists and a Louisiana truck stop owner has died, but the owner’s desire to get another tiger means the fight likely isn’t over.

Tony, better known as Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, was euthanized Monday at the age of 17 after suffering from kidney failure. Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, acquired Tony when the big cat was 6 months old. He would spend the rest of his life living in an enclosure by the side of the highway.

Courtesy of ALDF
Tony behind the fencing of his truck stop enclosure.

 

“He was an old man,” Sandlin told The Advocate. “You wish they could live forever, but of course, I wouldn’t want him to suffer.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal rights nonprofit, also expressed sadness over Tony’s death but for a different reason. The ALDF tried for more than seven years to get Tony moved to a wildlife sanctuary and said in a statement the group was “devastated” that Tony lived out his final days caged.

Sandlin also told The Advocate he plans to try to get a new tiger to live at the truck stop, which is heavily tiger-themed. The ALDF says its staff will do whatever it can to stop that from happening.

“We’re going to keep fighting and make sure there’s never another Tony,” ALDF attorney Anthony Eliseuson told HuffPost.

Sandlin, who did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost, says Tony received exemplary care at the truck stop. He also argued that the tiger was attached to his human caretakers and was used to life at the truck stop. In Sandlin’s view, moving Tony to a sanctuary would have been cruel, since the truck stop was all the big cat had ever known.

But animal rights activists disagreed. At a sanctuary, they said, he would have significantly more space, access to a more natural environment and freedom from loud engines and noxious fumes.

The question of how Sandlin was able to keep Tony at the truck stop involves a long and complex legal history. In 2006, Louisiana put restrictions on private big cat ownership. In 2012, Eliseuson said, the ALDF won a judgment against Sandlin that invalidated his permit to own Tony. But in 2014, then-Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed a bill into law that exempted Sandlin from the big cat ban.

However, the 2014 law exempted Sandlin because it decreed that the ban didn’t apply to anyone who owned their animal prior to 2006. That means the exemption would apply only to Tony, not to tigers Sandlin might try to acquire now.

So how would Sandlin be able to legally get a new tiger? Eliseuson explained that around the time of the 2012 ruling, Sandlin also filed a lawsuit challenging the 2006 state ban on big cat ownership as “unconstitutional.” His argument was that the law is enforced unevenly and gives officials enforcing it too much power, The New York Times reported in 2013.

So far, that lawsuit hasn’t made much progress, according to Eliseuson. But if Sandlin were to win, it would make privately owning exotic big cats legal not only for himself but for anyone in Louisiana.

“If he were to ultimately be successful, he would invalidate the big cat ban,” Eliseuson said, adding that ALDF will continue to fight to uphold the constitutionality of the ban.

State regulations on owning exotic animals vary wildly, contributing to a situation in which conservationists estimate there are 5,000 to 10,000 captive tigers in the U.S., many in places like roadside zoos and private homes. In contrast, there are about 3,200 tigers in the wild worldwide.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tony-truck-stop-tiger-dead_us_59ea6835e4b0958c468217df?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

 

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Animal Legal Defense Fund Litigation Update: Tony the Tiger   Leave a comment

Thank you to Anthony Eliseuson, Senior Staff Attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, for this post on LinkedIn for Tony.

Published on April 20, 2017

On behalf of the many attorneys working to help free Tony from his confinement at the Tiger Truck Stop, we wanted to provide on update on the status of the case and our efforts since we know many of you care as deeply as we do about Tony and are frustrated he still is stuck at the truck stop.

First, we recently filed a motion for leave to file an amended petition for intervention on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as Louisiana citizens John Kelleher and former state representative Warren Triche, Jr. to intervene in Michael Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s lawsuit challenging the big cat ban. The Court granted that motion for leave, and the amended petition is now deemed filed. This means that the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s claims challenging Act 697—a special law that was passed to allow Tiger Truck stop to keep Tony despite the big cat ban and the prior litigation victory enforcing that ban—are part of the case. The Animal Legal Defense Fund intends to demonstrate that Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution, including Article III, Section 12, which prohibits the Louisiana legislature from passing “special laws,” which are those laws “granting to any private corporation, association, or individual any special or exclusive right, privilege, or immunity.” La. Const. Art. III, sec. 12(A)(7). Importantly, if the Court agrees with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, it will mean that the exception in Act 697 is void, which will effectively restore the organization’s prior litigation victory that enforced the big cat ban with regard to the Tiger Truck Stop’s possession of Tony.

Second, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s role as an intervenor in this action will also allow it to defend the big cat ban itself from Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s constitutional challenges. While a victory for the Animal Legal Defense Fund on Act 697 would benefit Tony, a broader victory defeating Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s other constitutional challenges should ensure that there will never be another tiger at the Tiger Truck Stop and will also ensure the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries can prevent other persons or businesses from keeping tigers and other big cats in the future. Thus, while much of our focus remains on Tony, it is important to keep in mind that there are potentially broader ramifications at stake in this litigation to ensure that Louisiana can continue to prevent other wild big cats from being held in captivity in the future by enforcing the big cat ban.

Third, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wrote a letter to the USDA urging it to exercise its authority under the federal Animal Welfare Act to inspect Tiger Truck Stop and ensure Tony was receiving adequate veterinarian care. This letter was prompted both by public comments about Tony’s health as well as the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s own investigation and the analysis by a world-class tiger veterinarian expert. Based on videos and photographs of Tony taken by an the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s investigator, the expert identified two potentially significant medical issues with Tony: (1) Tony has a clearly defined kyphosis (or abnormal rounding) of the T-L spine; and (2) Tony is struggling to keep weight off his rear right foot to the point that it is having a significant impact to his gait, posture, tail movement and, ultimately, it appears to be limiting his normal activity and behavior patterns. Based on this analysis, the Animal Legal Defense Fund informed the USDA that a hands-on veterinary evaluation of Tony is required to determine the full nature and extent of his medical issues as well as the appropriate course of treatment.

Finally, the lawyers at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as the attorneys working with the organization on a pro bono basis at the law firms Jones Walker, Proskauer Rose, and Baker Donelson are also investigating and considering other options to try to help Tony and ensure he is released from the Tiger Truck Stop as he should have been when the Animal Legal Defense Fund successfully sued to enforce the big cat ban and secured an injunction against Tiger Truck Stop in 2013.

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the litigation and our efforts to help Tony retire to a sanctuary and we hope to have more positive developments to report soon!

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/animal-legal-defense-fund-litigation-update-tony-tiger-eliseuson

As Tony the Tiger’s Health Fails, His Advocates Fight Harder to Free Him via @Care2Causes   Leave a comment

By Alicia Graef | April 16, 2017

Efforts to free Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger who is being used as a living attraction at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, La., have been going on for years, but things just took an urgent turn over concerns that his health is failing.

Tigers have been an unfortunate feature at the Tiger Truck Stop since the 1980s, but over the years Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin has racked up numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), ranging from mishandling tigers and failing to provide veterinary care and proper shelter to unsanitary feeding practices and not having properly trained employees – and he may soon be facing more.

Sandlin’s other tigers were removed as a result of his violations in 2003, but Tony was left behind. His advocates have continued to argue that a truck stop, where he’s constantly surrounded by noise and diesel fumes, is no place for a tiger, and now concerns about his health have led to calls for an investigation.

This week the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), which has been working to secure Tony’s freedom, formally called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inspect the Tiger Truck Stop over concerns about Tony’s health that have been raised by members of the public and a private investigator.

Specifically, the ALDF wants the USDA to investigate AWA violations and determine whether Tony’s medical condition requires immediate independent veterinary care and treatment.

According to the ALDF, “Tony has been observed experiencing diarrhea, potentially suppressed appetite and lethargic behavior. A veterinarian with expertise treating exotic animals like Tony has reviewed recent photos and video and concluded he is suffering from at least two issues, including a kyphosis (or abnormal rounding) of the T-L spine and an impairment causing him to limp.”

“Tony should have been transferred to a sanctuary years ago, but now that his health is potentially failing, the cruelty of confining him in a gas station parking lot is compounded,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “At this point it’s the USDA’s responsibility to step in and enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

There’s Still Hope for a Better Future for Tony

At 16-years-old, Tony’s been languishing at the truck stop for close to two decades, but there’s still hope he will be freed, and moved to a sanctuary.

Even though the state passed a law that banned the private possession of big cats back in 2006, court cases involving Tony have been ongoing. Legally, Sandlin lost the battle years ago, and Tony should have been moved, but Sandlin somehow got enough support from lawmakers to pass a law, Act 697, in 2014 which exempts only himself from that ban.

Earlier this month the ALDF took steps to challenge that law by petitioning the court for permission to intervene in a current lawsuit Sandlin has going against the state, arguing “that this ‘one man exemption’ violates the state constitution, which prohibits ‘special laws’ designed to benefit a specific private individual or interest.”

“If the Court upholds the big cat ban and strikes down Sandlin’s exemption from it, Sandlin’s ownership of Tony will again be illegal and the state would be empowered to seize Tony and move him to a reputable sanctuary,” Anthony Eliseuson, ALDF Attorney, told Care2.

Eliseuson added that the ALDF is “doing everything within its power to move the case towards a successful resolution for Tony as quickly as possible,” and that there are several reputable sanctuaries that would be able to provide Tony with a home.

Hopefully the law banning big cats will be enforced as it was intended, and Tony will soon be spending his days enjoying a far different kind of life.

For more on how to help support legal efforts to free Tony and updates on the case, check out the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Free Tony the Tiger.

Photo credit: Animal Legal Defense Fund

http://www.care2.com/causes/as-tony-the-truck-stop-tigers-health-fails-his-advocates-fight-harder-to-free-him.html

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