Archive for the ‘illegal’ Tag

From ALDF: Attorneys Fighting to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Head to Court   Leave a comment

May 4th, 2011

Baton Rouge Court to Consider the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Lawsuit Against the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for Issuing Illegal Permit Allowing Tony to Be Kept on Display in Iberville Parish

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund  
Megan Backus Animal Legal Defense Fund  

BATON ROUGE, La. – Tomorrow morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and outraged Louisiana residents will square off against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in East Baton Rouge District Court over the legality of a permit that allows Tony, a ten-year old Siberian-Bengal tiger, to be confined as a roadside exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. In its lawsuit, filed on April 11, ALDF argues that the Department violated state law in granting the permit to Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin.

When: Thursday, May 5, 9:00am
Where: East Baton Rouge District Courthouse, Judge R. Michael Caldwell’s courtroom, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge

During Thursday’s  hearing, the court will hear ALDF’s argument that Sandlin’s permit to own and display Tony should be invalidated, and that Tony should be released into the custody of ALDF or an accredited animal sanctuary, where he can receive care and treatment and live out his life in a more natural environment, free from the 24-hour exposure to noise and diesel fumes. The court may choose to issue a decision in the case immediately following the hearing.

ALDF’s lawsuit to free Tony has drawn the support of high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer and has galvanized activists around the world. This week, ALDF delivered to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries over 31,000 signed petitions urging it to revoke Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony. Tony has been on exhibit at the Tiger Truck Stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law that led to the ban on the private ownership of big cats, including tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

“Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department has disregarded state law and misused taxpayer money in arbitrarily granting the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We are heading to court to ensure that Tony is no longer subjected to diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request. An attorney for ALDF will be attending the hearing and available for interviews. Reporters attending the hearing should arrive in advance, as it is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

From The Fight for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Heads to Court   Leave a comment

by Stephanie Feldstein · May 04, 2011

For Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger who spends his days as a roadside attraction at a Louisiana truck stop, this week feels as dismal as any other. But Tony’s advocates hope this week will mark the beginning of the end of his captivity.

On May 5, the Animal Legal Defense Fund will appear in East Baton Rouge District Court when the legal battle for Tony’s freedom begin. At that time, they will deliver your petition signatures to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Last week, Leonardo DiCaprio, a longtime advocate for tigers, urged his fans on Twitter and Facebook to help Tony. “Have you heard about Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger living at a truck stop in Louisiana?” DiCaprio wrote on Facebook. “This tiger has been living in a small inadequate and inhumane enclosure since 2003. We need to help the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows this.”

Not only does LDWF have the power to revoke the permit that allows Tiger Truck Stop to keep Tony behind bars but, Animal Legal Defense Fund contends, it was illegal for them to issue the permit in the first place.

In court tomorrow, ALDF will begin to argue the case that the wildlife department violated state regulations on private ownership of big cats. As of 2006, tigers were no longer allowed as pets or exhibits in Louisiana, unless they were already legally owned and grandfathered in at the time the new regulations came into effect.

But ever since 1993, tigers haven’t been allowed in Tiger Truck Stop’s hometown of Iberville. So, as far as state law is concerned, Tony is contraband.

Officials have spent years ignoring the inhumane, illegal situation at Tiger Truck Stop. But then people began to learn about Tony. And they began to speak out for him.

As the call for his release to a sanctuary has grown into a roar, officials have been trying to backtrack. Iberville parish granted Tiger Truck Stop an exemption to keep Tony in 2009 … years too late to qualify for the state permit. Yet once again, in 2010, the state renewed the permit anyway.

What’s different now is that Tony has a legal team that’s forcing the wildlife department to answer for its inhumane inconsistencies in court. And Tony has you to keep his story in the spotlight and pressure the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do the right thing and get Tony out of the truck stop and into a sanctuary.

Photo credit: Big Cat Rescue

Stephanie Feldstein is a Editor who has been part of the animal welfare and rescue community for over a decade, and most recently worked for an environmental organization.

From CBS Crimesider: Live tiger doesn’t belong at truck stop, says La. lawsuit   Leave a comment

Clicking on this picture will take you to Tiger Truck Stop photo gallery.

April 14, 20119:45 AM|| Posted by Barry Leibowitz

(CBS/AP) NEW ORLEANS – Why is there a live tiger at a truck stop west of Baton Rouge?

That’s what an animal advocacy group and a former state legislator want to know. Actually, they want to put a stop to it, so they’re suing Louisiana wildlife officials, claiming they violated the law when they issued a permit allowing a live tiger to be on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr. are among plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday in state district court in Baton Rouge.

The permit was originally issued in 2009, and reissued last year, to Michael Sandlin. Sandlin and some animal advocacy groups have been at odds for years over his keeping of exotic cats at the truck stop. He currently keeps one adult tiger, 10-year-old Tony (what else?), in a large caged area just off a parking area at the facility. He touts the tiger exhibit on his website as a tourist draw, along with a Cajun restaurant, video poker and tire service for truckers.

The lawsuit says regulations adopted by the department under a 2006 state law forbid the possession of tigers. People who legally owned such animals prior to the 2006 law could continue to be permitted. But the lawsuit says Sandlin’s keeping of tigers before the law was passed also was illegal, violating a parish law. Also, the lawsuit claims, Sandlin cannot keep a tiger at the truck stop because he does not live on the premises as required by law.

Sandlin, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, said Tuesday that the parish ordinance did not apply to roadside zoos such as his. He added that his business is open around the clock so there is always someone on the property, which meets the intent of the residency requirement, and he 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 the Animal Legal Defense Fund of seeking publicity to raise funds at his expense.

Animal rights group sues over live tiger display at truck stop   Leave a comment

3:16 PM, Apr 15, 2011 – Written By Ken Christian

BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC) — A Louisiana state agency is under fire from a national animal rights group after activists say the organization issued an illegal permit to keep a grown tiger at a truck stop.

Tony the tiger has been the center of controversy since his arrival at Tiger Truck Stop more than a decade ago.

Now, an animal rights group has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for letting Tony’s owner keep him without meeting all the requirements laid out in the Louisiana law.

In 2006, former state representative Warren Triche authored a bill that eventually led to the ban on private ownership of big cats, including tigers.

“The bill aimed itself at trying to make sure that some organization would be able to have oversight over that captive large animal,” says Triche.

The Wildlife and Fisheries Commission was put in charge of regulating those permits.

They cited several reasons for their decision to stop issuing permits for new purchase, sale, and ownership of big cats, including the safety and care of the exotic animals and the danger posed to people living in the area.

“What happens when a 300 or 400 pound tiger escapes into the general public?” asks Triche. “Who do you call?”

Under the new laws people who already owned big cats, like Tony, were only allowed to keep them if they met certain criteria.

The lawsuit, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, states that Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, did not meet all those requirements.

The law states that to keep the exotic pet, you have to live on the same land where the animal is kept.

The lawsuit says Sandlin does not live at the truck stop.

Still, Sandlin received a “grandfather permit” in 2009 and it was renewed in December 2010.

Tony continues to live in a concrete cage right next to the truck stop.

“He’s adversely being affected by the habitat that he’s in,” says Triche.

Advocates to free Tony say he’s being used as a tourist attraction.

“The owner of the cat just uses the cat as a lure into the restaurant and fuel facility there,” says Triche. “His only thought is escape and that’s no way to live.”

The goal of the lawsuit is to revoke Sandlin’s permit, so Tony can find a better home, one where he can live the life activists say he deserves.

Triche says the bill excludes mascots, like Mike the Tiger, from the ban.

A spokesperson for Wildlife and Fisheries says the department is unable to speak about the lawsuit.

Tony is attracting celebrity attention.

“True Blood” star Kristin Bauer, has joined the forces with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to free Tony.

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