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Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Motion for Summary Judgment to Free Tony the Tiger Once and for All   Leave a comment

Posted on May 18, 2017

Naturalistic Habitat at Reputable Sanctuary Awaits Long-Suffering Tiger

Contact:
Natalia Lima, 201-679-7088, nlima@aldf.org

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a motion for summary judgment that would at long last resolve the years-long legal battle over the fate of Tony, the 16-year-old tiger held in a cage at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete.

Tony has attracted the attention of animal lovers nationwide for the impoverished conditions of his captivity and the lengths to which Tiger Truck Stop has gone to continue profiting off the tiger’s misery.

A lawsuit, filed by Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin in 2012, argues that Louisiana’s 2006 ban on private ownership of big cats is unconstitutional. Sandlin has been able to maintain captivity of Tony despite the ban because he has challenged the constitutionality of the big cat ban and also successfully lobbied Louisiana to pass Act 697, a law exempting Sandlin – and only Sandlin – from the big cat ban. Sandlin’s lawsuit is intended to allow Sandlin to buy and exploit another tiger after Tony dies.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s motion for summary judgment challenges both of these legal tactics employed by Sandlin to keep Tony at the truck stop. The motion demonstrates Louisiana’s common sense ban on private possession of big cats was an appropriate and constitutional exercise of the state’s authority. The motion also demonstrates the “special law” exempting Sandlin from the big cat ban was unconstitutional. If the court agrees with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and upholds the ban while striking down the exemption, Sandlin’s possession of Tony will again be illegal and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will have a duty to intervene on Tony’s behalf.

“Tony could have been moved to a reputable sanctuary years ago. A reputable facility has a standing offer to welcome him, but Tony’s owner is intent on placing his personal profit over the tiger’s well-being,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We remain hopeful that the legal system will do right by the law and allow Tony to live the rest of his life away from diesel fumes and roaring highway noise.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund thanks the law firms Jones Walker, Proskauer Rose, and Baker Donelson for providing pro bono representation in the case.

http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-files-motion-for-summary-judgment-to-free-tony-the-tiger-once-and-for-all/

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

Truck Stop Tiger Could Be Denied Legal Protections with New Louisiana Bill via @ALDF   Leave a comment

TONYThe following posted today from the Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Posted on April 22, 2014

Special Exemption Would Keep Tiger at Gross Tete Truck Stop; Advocates Urge Immediate Action

For immediate release:

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

BATON ROUGE — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is calling on the Louisiana state legislature today to defend existing protections for tigers, in light of a bill that could undo every victory made by the organization on Tony the tiger’s behalf. On April 9th, with less than one day’s notice, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources rushed through approval of “SB 250.” SB 250 undermines a 2006 state law that bans private ownership of tigers and other large exotic cats by exempting “certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” The bill is an attempt to retroactively remove Tony’s protection under the 2006 law, and allow Michael Sandlin to retain possession of Tony—a 14 year old Siberian Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete’sTiger Truck Stop by Sandlin in violation of the state ban. The Senate is expected to debate the measure today.

Sandlin has been in illegal possession of Tony the tiger since 2000, displaying him in a cage at the Gross Tete truckstop where he is subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including former Rep. Warren Triche, Jr, the sponsor of the 2006 ban, and has been receiving pro bono assistance from the law firm Baker Donelson. In April 2013, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin’s petition and let that decision stand.Triche explained, “Tony’s situation played a principal role in passing the 2006 bill, as he was a perfect example of why such legislation was needed.”

“ALDF’s Court of Appeals victory to help protect Tony the tiger still stands, yet Sandlin continues to try to undermine the law, year after year,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.“This bill was deviously snuck in the back door, with no notice, and is one more attempt from Sandlin to say he is not accountable by law and should receive special favors—Tony deserves the court to uphold the law.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.

http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/truck-stop-tiger-could-be-denied-legal-protections-with-new-louisiana-bill/

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