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Animal Legal Defense Fund Demands Feds Recognize Tony the Tiger as an “Individual” Protected by the Freedom of Information Act   Leave a comment

Posted on May 24, 2017

Appeals USDA’s Denial of Expedited Processing of FOIA Request

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

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed an administrative appeal, urging the United States Department of Agriculture to recognize a captive tiger as an “individual” whose physical safety is at risk and to expedite the group’s public records request. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) related to the health and well-being of Tony the Tiger, who has been confined at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for 16 years.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sought expedited processing, which FOIA requires when delayed disclosure “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual,” namely Tony the tiger. The USDA erroneously denied the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s request, asserting that Tony is not an “individual” because the term applies only to humans.

But the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s appeal demonstrates that Tony the Tiger is an “individual” within the plain meaning of that term. Merriam-Webster defines “individual” as “a particular being or thing as distinguished from a class, species or collection,” which Tony certainly is. Merriam-Webster even includes a usage example specific to a tiger: “[t]he markings on tigers are unique to each individual.”

“Federal law recognizes a strong public interest in protecting the interests of non-human animals,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is troubling that the USDA, an agency charged with protecting the interests of animals, has erroneously excluded animals from the scope of a provision intended to allow prompt public access to information in situations where it might help safeguard the safety or life of the very animals the USDA is responsible for protecting. When animals’ lives are on the line, the American people have a right to speedy access to information that might prevent suffering.”

http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-demands-feds-recognize-tony-the-tiger-as-an-individual-protected-by-the-freedom-of-information-act/

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Summary Judgment in Tony the Tiger Case   Leave a comment


By: Lauren McCoy
Posted: May 18, 2017 01:17 PM CDT
Updated: May 18, 2017 06:26 PM CDT

Direct Link: http://www.brproud.com/news/local-news/animal-legal-defense-fund-files-summary-judgment-in-tony-the-tiger-case/716559241

BATON ROUGE, LA (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) – The long-fought battle to keep a tiger named Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop in Gross Tete continues this week. The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a motion for a summary judgment in this case.

“It’s a procedure that allows the court to enter a final judgment in a case when a party can show that the undisputed facts that demonstrate that they’re entitled to judge as the matter of law,” said Tony Eliseuson, a senior staff attorney at ALDF.

Eliseuson said the group is challenging two legal tactics made by Mike Sandlin, the owner of Tony and Tiger Truck Stop, in this case.  Back in 2012, Sandlin filed a lawsuit against Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats saying it is unconstitutional. The state later established a law exempting Sandlin from the ban.

“In this summary judgment motion, we’ve attacked both of those issues. So, we’ve told the court that the big cat ban is constitutional, and then the second thing we’ve done is we’ve challenged that special law that was designed to just benefit Michael Sandlin and to only benefit Tiger Truck Stop because that violates the Louisiana constitution,” explained Eliseuson.

So, what’s next?

“Then ultimately, there will be a hearing before the court that has to take place. It can’t happen any sooner than 30 days. So, we’re hoping it happens close to that 30 day mark, but then ultimately, the court has the power to grant our motion and that would end the case. The opposing parties would have the right to appeal of course, but it would be a final judgment. The net result of that would be that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would have the authority then to take Tony and move him to a sanctuary,” concluded Eliseuson.

Local 33 and Fox 44 are still waiting to hear back from Sandlin.  We are told he will get back to us when he gets into work. Sandlin has told Local 33 and Fox 44 in the past that he will continue to fight to keep Tony, no matter the circumstances.

If you want to learn more about this case, click here.

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/

ALDF: “We will continue fighting for Tony, in Candy’s honor”   Leave a comment

From Stephen Wells – Executive Director of The Animal Legal Defense Fund | April 24, 2017

On Friday afternoon, the Animal Legal Defense Fund received devastating news; Candy the chimpanzee had died. To hear of any animal’s death is heartbreaking, but losing Candy was especially difficult. For decades, Candy was held captive at Dixie Landin’ amusement park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in lonely, cramped captivity and without any interaction with other chimps. Her isolation was torture.

In November 2015 we filed a lawsuit against Sam Haynes and the Dixie Landin’ amusement park under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for inhumanely confining Candy in isolation and neglecting her welfare. We also made multiple offers to transfer her to a sanctuary capable of meeting the needs of such a complex, intelligent, social creature. It is a tragedy that Candy spent her final days in such conditions.

I’m writing to tell you about this today because I want you to know that we will never stop fighting for animals like Candy. Everyone here at the Animal Legal Defense Fund is heartbroken over Candy, but this terrible loss highlights the urgency of similar cases of animals in captivity.

For six years we have had litigation pending to release Tony, a 16-year-old tiger in potentially declining health held captive at a truck stop less than an hour away from where Candy was held. I assure you that we will continue fighting for Tony, in Candy’s honor. 

I wish I never had to write to you with such sad news, but it’s important to us at the Animal Legal Defense Fund that everyone knows we will never forget Candy, and we will never stop working to save animals like her and Tony.

Thank you for your tireless effort to help us release Candy from her barren cage. May she rest in peace now.

For the animals,

Stephen E. Wells
Executive Director

https://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5154/t/19504/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1391023

Owner of Grosse Tete Truck Stop, Michael Sandlin, denies Tony is “suffering”   Leave a comment

Group: Truck-stop tiger may be ill; Owner: Old, arthritic

Janet Mcconnaughey, Associated Press Updated 8:09 pm, Thursday, April 13, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Video and photos suggest a tiger kept at a Baton Rouge-area truck stop may be ill, an animal rights group says.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate and ensure that Tony the tiger is getting proper care. A veterinarian has said a private investigator’s photos and video show a limp and spinal curvature, and a web posting in February said the tiger had diarrhea, attorney Matthew Liebman said Thursday.

The owner of the Grosse Tete Truck Stop, Michael Sandlin, denies that Tony is suffering. He says the tiger is seen regularly by a veterinarian, limps from arthritis and only has loose stools after he gets anti-worm medicine.

“He is not sick. He’s simply an old man with some arthritis,” Sandlin said.

At 17, Tony is indeed old for a tiger. Tigers typically live 14 to 18 years in captivity, according to veterinarian David Baker of the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Like people with arthritis, Sandlin said, Tony wakes up a bit stiff and loosens up during the day. He lives in a cage with a grassy area, a large water tank to swim in, a hanging tire and other toys.

“We just want to make him as comfortable as we can and we don’t want him to be in pain. That’s what the medication is for,” he said.

Sandlin said he has asked the vet to check Tony again because of the concern about his health.

“I don’t have a problem when someone has a concern about the animal’s welfare as far as his health,” Sandlin said. “But when they want to talk about total animal liberation and equal rights for animals, I do stand opposed to that.”

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has received the defense fund’s complaint, spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said in an email. “We will look into it. I want to clarify that this does not mean there is an open investigation,” she wrote.

Animal group urges federal exam of ‘Tony’ the tiger via The Independent   Leave a comment

by Walter Pierce – The Independent

Citing independent video and photographic evidence and consultation with a veterinarian, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is asking the USDA to examine Tony, the 16-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged his entire life in a small chain-link enclosure at a interstate-side truck stop in Grosse Tete, for possible deteriorating health. The ALDF says it submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking that federal authorities examine the tiger under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

ALDF spokeswoman Liz Holt tells The Independent that the group’s “concerns have grown even more urgent, as we have received reports—with photo and video—that Tony’s healthy may be failing. After consulting with a big cat veterinarian, we have reached out to the USDA and urged them to open an investigation to review Tony’s health and make sure he receives any veterinary care he may need.”

The ALDF provided theind.com with two independently shot videos showing Tony in his enclosure. (The second video is embedded below.) Both suggest the animal is lethargic and the video embedded below shows the tiger with a slight limp favoring his rear left leg.

The ALDF has fought Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, in court for several years in an effort to get the state to order Tony’s relocation to a tiger sanctuary. In 2014, state lawmakers passed legislation making Sandlin exempt from a state law barring private ownership of big exotic animals, which went into effect after Sandlin began using tigers as a roadside attraction at his Iberville Parish business off Interstate 10. The ALDF is currently challenging the law that grandfathered Sandlin.

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. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is not aware of any evidence that Tony is receiving the adequate veterinary care he is guaranteed under the Animal Welfare Act.

Stephen Wells, the ALDF’s executive director, says in a release announcing the letter to the feds that 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. At this point it’s the USDA’s responsibility to step in and enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

http://theind.com/article-24858-animal-group-urges-federal-exam-of-%E2%80%98tony%E2%80%99-the-tiger.html

Animal Legal Defense Fund Urges USDA Inspection for Tony the Tiger   Leave a comment

Posted on April 11, 2017

Truck Stop Tiger’s Potential Failing Health Requires Immediate Government Intervention

Contact: media@aldf.org

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund has submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting an inspection of Tony, based on recent information raising concerns regarding the tiger’s health. Tony, a 16-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, is held in a cage at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop where he lives amidst diesel fumes and the roar of the adjacent highway. The USDA licenses the Truck Stop under the federal Animal Welfare Act.

For years, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has worked to have Tony moved to a reputable sanctuary. While the legal battle continues, recent observations by members of the public and a private investigator raise concerns about Tony’s health, prompting the Animal Legal Defense Fund to call on the USDA to inspect the Tiger Truck Stop facility. The group’s letter urges the USDA to investigate Animal Welfare Act violations and determine whether Tony’s medical condition requires immediate independent veterinary care and treatment.

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. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is not aware of any evidence that Tony is receiving the adequate veterinary care he is guaranteed under the Animal Welfare Act.

“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,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “At this point it’s the USDA’s responsibility to step in and enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act.”

For more information visit, aldf.org

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