Archive for the ‘louisiana department of wildlife and fisheries’ 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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The Animal Legal Defense Fund: Fighting On in Tony’s Memory   Leave a comment

Posted on October 18, 2017

During the last 48 hours since we learned of the death of Tony the tiger, everyone at the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been moved and comforted by the outpouring of love people have expressed for Tony. We fought multiple legal battles for over six years to free Tony and move him to a reputable sanctuary, and we still aren’t done. We have two Tony-related lawsuits that will continue in the wake of his passing and are seeking to learn more about how he died.

The first lawsuit seeks to uphold the constitutionality of the Louisiana Big Cat Ban, a 2006 law that prohibits the private possession of big cats. If successful, this lawsuit would ensure that Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tiger Truck Stop, cannot condemn another big cat to the kind of life Tony had. Sandlin is fighting hard to fill Tony’s truck stop parking lot cage with another tiger, and we will do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

The second lawsuit concerns the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) refusal to recognize Tony as an “individual.” In April, the Animal Legal Defense Fund requested that the USDA conduct an inspection of Tony after learning that his health was in decline. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the inspection report and requested 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.” Our request for expedited processing was denied because the USDA asserted that Tony is not an “individual.” In July, we sued the USDA for failure to recognize Tony as an “individual.” A victory in this lawsuit would enable the public to quickly obtain crucial information essential to protecting an animal’s wellbeing.

In addition, in the wake of Tony’s death we have made a request under the Louisiana Public Records Act, for a copy of Tony’s necropsy (an examination to determine the cause of death or disease) performed by Louisiana State University, where Tony died. We will carefully review it to determine what caused the alleged renal failure that led to Tony’s tragic death, and ensure it was not the result of improper care or treatment.

It is a tragedy that our years of litigation could not free Tony before his death. As Tony aged and his health appeared to decline, we feared this would happen, but the Animal Legal Defense Fund does not give up. We join the many advocates across the world in remembering Tony this week, and we promise to keep you updated on our work on behalf Tony and other animals like him.

http://aldf.org/blog/fighting-tonys-memory/

From The Dodo: Famous Tiger Passes Away After 17 Years Stuck At Truck Stop   Leave a comment

“We are devastated … he lived and died caged at a truck stop that could never provide the life he deserved.”


For 17 years, Tony the tiger sat on the concrete floor outside a busy truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, while people around the world fought to save him.

The Tragic Tale of Tony the Truck-Stop Tiger   Leave a comment

Tony’s 16-year confinement and ultimate death as a roadside attraction expose the failure of the American legal system.

 

 

Tony should have been allowed to live in a sanctuary, where he could feel grass under his paws.
Photo Credit: Janusz Sobolewski/Flickr

For more than six years, the Animal Legal Defense Fund fought tirelessly to save a tiger named Tony from a cage in the parking lot of a Louisiana truck stop. Sadly, we received news this week that Tony had died of kidney failure after spending 16 years confined to his cage, living and dying as a roadside attraction. Tony’s plight is a microcosm of the problems with our legal system, a system that treats sentient beings as property and affords disproportionate political influence to their captors and abusers.

Tony was born into captivity, sentenced from birth to a life of exploitation, a gimmick used by his owner Michael Sandlin to sell gasoline at the Tiger Truck Stop. It doesn’t take a degree in veterinary medicine to know that a truck stop is no place for a tiger. But veterinarians and animal behaviorists weighed in emphatically on Tony’s behalf. Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a doctor of veterinary medicine with decades of experience with captive large cats, personally visited Tony and concluded that he was “exploited to the detriment of his welfare.”

Dr. Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, concluded that Tony’s enclosure was completely unnatural and totally unfit, and that the manner in which Tony was kept at the Tiger Truck Stop fell significantly below the bare minimum required to ensure his psychological welfare.

The state legislature and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) recognized that keeping wild animals in captivity causes immense animal suffering and threatens public safety, so they banned the private possession of tigers. But the agency bowed to pressure from the Tiger Truck Stop and issued it a grandfather permit to keep Tony in spite of the ban.

In early 2011—moved by Tony’s suffering and the passion of his supporters—we sued LDWF, arguing that the truck stop wasn’t eligible for a grandfather permit. And we won. The trial court ruled that because the truck stop violated a local ordinance prohibiting the ownership and exhibition of tigers, it couldn’t qualify for a permit. The court ordered LDWF to revoke the permit and prohibited it from issuing any new permits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision, leaving the Tiger Truck Stop and Michael Sandlin with an unlawfully possessed tiger and no permit to keep him.

That should have been the end of it.

LDWF should have seized Tony and sent him to a sanctuary where he could have lived out the last six years with grass under his paws, fresh air in his lungs, and caretakers who prioritized his well-being. Instead, Tony would spend the next six years as a victim to a lethargic legal system that failed him at every turn, notwithstanding the indefatigable efforts of his legal advocates.

What went wrong?

At the root of the problem is the fact that in the United States, animals are property. And any time one asserts the rights of property against the rights of its owner, the game is rigged. Tony’s “owner,” Michael Sandlin, was able to exploit a narrative of private property rights under siege, claiming over and over again that he had a God-given right as an American to own a tiger.

Sandlin even filed his own lawsuit, arguing that Louisiana’s ban on tigers violates his property rights. We intervened against Sandlin in the case to defend the ban and the right of the government to prohibit the inhumane captivity of wild animals. The case has been pending for more than five years. Although we expect Sandlin’s lawsuit to lose, as a delay-tactic to keep Tony trapped at the truck stop, it succeeded spectacularly.

Another troublesome aspect of our legal system also doomed Tony to die at the truck stop: the undue influence of money in politics and the corruption of the political process by those who abuse animals.

Tony’s sad story reveals America’s broken legal system, rigged to favor animal abusers. (image: ALDF)

In 2014, Sandlin convinced his state senator, Rick Ward, to introduce a bill to exempt Tony—and only Tony—from the state ban on big cats. The bill carved out a retroactive exemption to place Sandlin above the law that applies to all other Louisiana citizens, co-opting the legislature to undo the legal victory that revoked the truck stop’s permit.

Despite our on-the-ground efforts to stop the bill in Baton Rouge, it passed and was signed into law by then-governor Bobby Jindal. We challenged the new law as an unconstitutional “special law”—a giveaway to a private special interest at the expense of the public interest. But the lawsuit was bounced on a procedural technicality to a different court, then languished, awaiting a ruling from the court that didn’t come quickly enough to spare Tony.

All told, we filed four lawsuits, intervened in a fifth lawsuit, and fought legislatively for Tony’s freedom. Tragically, it wasn’t enough to overcome the lethargy of the courts to act—and the corruption of Louisiana politics.

But we will hold our grief over Tony’s death in our hearts and our memories as we continue to fight to prevent Michael Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop from replacing Tony with another tiger, and as we fight for the liberation of other wild animals from cruel captivity.

While we have had numerous legal victories for captive wildlife—from lions to tigers to bears and more—we remain committed to fighting for animals using the laws we do have—while simultaneously working to transform the legal system to recognize the obvious: Animals are more than just “property.”

Stephen Wells is executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Summer School – Captive Wildlife   Leave a comment

Click picture to register and watch webinar!

If you missed ALDF’s recent webinar on captive wildlife, you can watch a recording of the session here.

“Matthew Liebman, Director of Litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, teaches participants how animal advocates are using state and federal laws to protect wild animals in captivity. This webinar will focus on groundbreaking litigation brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund under the Endangered Species Act, the Animal Welfare Act, and state laws. The cases have sought to liberate Lolita the Orca, Candy the Chimpanzee, Tony the Tiger, Ben the Bear, and others from inhumane captivity.”

Tony’s case was covered extensively. We truly appreciate ALDF’s commitment to Tony and to his release to a reputable big cat sanctuary. They have the positive support of Tony’s friends from all over the world.

#FreeTonyTiger

 

 

Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues USDA for Denying Tony the Tiger is an “Individual” Protected by FOIA   Leave a comment

Posted on July 11, 2017

Organization Seeks Expedited Records Concerning Health of Endangered Tiger

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

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture for refusing to recognize a captive tiger as an “individual” whose physical safety is at risk and refusing to expedite the organization’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. The Animal Legal Defense Fund does not agree.

Upon denial of the expedited request, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an administrative appeal challenging the USDA’s decision—which was constructively denied based on the USDA’s failure to resolve the appeal within the statutorily required time period.

Both in the administrative appeal and lawsuit, the Animal Legal Defense Fund argues 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.”

“The USDA is charged with protecting the interests of animals—yet it erroneously excludes animals from the scope of provisions intended to allow prompt public access to information that might be necessary to ensure the safety and protect the lives of the very animals they are responsible for protecting,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The American people have a right to access information quickly when an animal’s life and safety are on the line.”

http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-sues-usda-for-denying-tony-the-tiger-is-an-individual-protected-by-foia/

TONY: 17 Years At Tiger Truck Stop   Leave a comment

17 TONY NEW

As the month of July begins, we mark another year of captivity at Tiger Truck Stop for Tony. It is reported Tony was born in July of 2000 and acquired as a cub that year from a Texas breeder.

Back in 2009, we learned about Tony from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida, and wanted to do whatever we could to help him, gain support for his release to a reputable sanctuary and raise awareness for captive tigers in the United States. By bringing his story to social media, people from all over the world learned about Tony and the captive tiger situation in the U.S. With more privately owned tigers in the United States (est. 5,000 plus) than left in the wild (appx. 3,200) support for legislation banning private ownership is very important. The Big Cat Public Safety Act is a federal law that would end the private possession of big cats as pets, props and for their parts. Please help with the passage of this law by contacting your member of congress and asking them to support the bill. Visit: stopbigcatabuse.com where you will be able to contact your representative by phone, e-mail or Twitter.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) began their legal proceedings on Tony’s behalf in 2011. Repeated court victories found the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries illegal – each victory was met with an appeal by Michael Sandlin, owner of Tiger Truck Stop. When Mr. Sandlin exhausted his appeals he enlisted Sen. Rick Ward to propose a bill (SB 250) to exempt himself from the 2006 law barring private ownership of big cats. The bill was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal (Act 697.)

ALDF has vowed to continue fighting for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary – and to also keep fighting for Tony to honor the memory of Candy, a chimpanzee held captive for decades at Dixie Landin’ amusement park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in lonely, cramped cage without any interaction with other chimps.

Please see ALDF’s timeline of Tony’s case for updates on their current legal actions:

You can support ALDF and all of their tremendous work to help animals here:

The following links provide more information on ALDF’s recent legal actions for Tony:

We thank these sanctuaries for their great support of Tony and for their standing offers of a home for him:

Our final THANK YOU is to ALL of Tony’s friends for their positive support and dedication to this beautiful tiger and to Tony’s release to a safe, clean home that will provide him with the care and respect all animals deserve.

Please continue to support Tony, the “Free Tony The Tiger Campaign”, his legal representatives ALDF, and the wonderful sanctuaries mentioned in this post.

If you visit Tony and take pictures and/or video please share them with us. Tag us on Instagram, Twitter or e-mail: FreeTonyTheTiger17@gmail.com

Keep Tony’s Story networked on social media:

Facebook:
facebook.com/FreeTonyTheTiger

Instagram:
https://instagram.com/tonythetruckstoptiger/ (@TonyTheTruckstopTiger)

Twitter:
@FreeTonyTiger
@TonyTiger2000

Youtube:
youtube.com/user/FreeTonyTheTiger

Sign Tony’s Change.org Petition:
change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

Personal Note: Visiting Tony, I vowed: We Will Never Stop Fighting For You Handsome Boy…and WE NEVER WILL!

Stay Strong “T” ♥

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