Archive for the ‘louisiana legislature’ Tag
On World Animal Day we hope to bring Tony’s story and that of captive big cats to people worldwide and ask for support of Tony and for U.S. residents to take action for captive big cats.
World Animal Day began in 1931 in Florence at a convention of ecologists as a means to highlight endangered species. Since then it has developed to include all animals, and countries around the world participate in and celebrate this day. World Animal Day is celebrated on October 4th – The Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi who is the patron saint of animals. Learn more on the official World Animal Day website: http://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/
Our submission for World Animal Day follows (waiting approval ~ will post link shortly)
People all over the world have become aware of the serious issue of captive tigers and big cats in the United States because of a very special tiger named Tony who has lived all of his fifteen years as a roadside attraction at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana USA. Anyone who has followed Tony’s story has experienced both its’ highs and lows. Hard fought victories in court by the Animal Legal Defense Fund found the permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries was illegal and revoked; LDWF was blocked from issuing a new permit. Each victory was met with an appeal by Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, and subsequently each appeal was denied. A timeline of Tony’s case can be viewed at this link: http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/timelines/tony-the-tiger/
After exhausting all of his options via the courts, Mr. Sandlin enlisted his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. The legislation was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The Animal Legal Defense Fund continues their legal battle for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.
Tony’s change.org petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to enforce the 2006 law banning private ownership of big cats remains open and is nearing 52,000 signatures. Please sign – it is open to everyone.
Take action for tigers and big cats! Click the picture and ask your representative to support the Big Cats & Public Safety Act!
There are an estimated 10,000 or more captive big cats living across the U.S. They’re housed in backyards, deplorable roadside zoos, and other facilities ill-equipped to care for these wild animals. On September 17, 2015 Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 3546) in the US House. The bill, if enacted, will prohibit private ownership of big cats in the US and help to end the national big cats in captivity crisis. We’re asking United States residents to contact their representative for their support at the following link.
Our vision for Tony is his release to a sanctuary where he will have a home that provides expert care, a natural, spacious, safe habitat, and where he will swim, run, play and engage in a tiger’s natural behaviors — finally rid of the noise, smells and his 15 year incarceration at his truck stop “prison.” Keeping Tony’s story networked is so important. Please check out his social media links and give him a”LIKE” & “FOLLOW” ~ NEVER STOP ROARING!
Join Tony’s Facebook Page:
Free Tony The Tiger On WordPress:
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Tony On Youtube:
Posted on November 14, 2014
Direct Link: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-back-in-court-to-protect-tony-the-tiger-from-losing-statutory-protection/
For immediate release:
Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
BATON ROUGE — Arguments will be heard Monday in a lawsuit brought by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to protect Tony, a tiger living at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop. The lawsuit alleges that Louisiana lawmakers violated the state’s constitutional prohibition on “special laws” when they exempted Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, from existing animal welfare and public safety laws by passing Act 697 in June. ALDF is representing former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, Jr. (who sponsored the 2006 ban on private ownership of dangerous large exotic cats) and other Louisiana residents and taxpayers. The Tiger Truck Stop has asked the court to dismiss ALDF’s lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin.
Where: 19th Judicial District Court, Division 23, Room 8a, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.
When: Monday, November 17, 2014. 9:30am CT
The sole purpose of Act 697 is to allow Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot by exempting Sandlin from Louisiana’s 2006 ban, a law Sandlin had broken for years. Act 697 undoes legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively removes protections Tony received under the ban. In a separate lawsuit, the Louisiana courts held that Sandlin’s captivity of Tony violated state law.
“Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution and the intent of the 2006 ban, which was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Louisianans want Tony to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot—and they don’t want their representatives to hand out special privileges to lawbreakers like the Tiger Truck Stop, which profits from animal suffering.”
Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.
FTTT Note: Please leave your comments in support of ALDF’s efforts and Tony’s re-homing to a big cat sanctuary at the direct link: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-back-in-court-to-protect-tony-the-tiger-from-losing-statutory-protection/
I first learned of Tony about five years ago while I was online researching information about big cats. I can honestly say I had no idea about privately owned tigers in the United States or the seriousness of the issue. I remember falling upon Big Cat Rescue’s (of Tampa FL) website and it was there I read about Tony. As with most everyone who learns of Tony’s story, I was shocked – the more I learned the more I wanted to do something to help. I signed petitions, shared his story, and embraced social media starting a Facebook page, blog, Twitter and Youtube for Tony. Tony even has his “own” Twitter and Instagram.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund took interest in Tony’s case and the legal battle began in 2011. ALDF victories in court prevailed with a judge ruling the permit issued by LDWF to Tony’s owner was illegal; Mr. Sandlin countered with appeals that were ruled against.
See this timeline from ALDF:
ALDF’s feature article about Tony:
The most recent attempt by Mr. Sandlin to keep Tony came about with him enlisting his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. SB 250 was passed by the Louisiana Legislature and then was signed into law as Act 697 by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
ALDF challenged this bill by filing a lawsuit against the LDWF, state of Louisiana, Tiger Truck Stop and Mr. Sandlin:
Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against Louisiana for Violating State Constitution with New Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Law:
Thankfully friends of Tony would visit him and share pictures and video they took which is a tremendous help in maintaining a presence online, updating people who follow his case as well as to gain support when there are actions to take on Tony’s behalf. But with all the pictures, videos, and accounts of Tony at the truck stop, I longed to see him for myself.
I finally got the opportunity to visit Tony recently and it has taken me some time to write this account. The whole experience was surreal, exciting, heartbreaking and bittersweet. I was honored to be in the presence of this majestic tiger but saddened by the conditions he is subjected to and disgusted by the blatant corruption and disregard for a state law that passed unanimously in 2006 banning private ownership of big cats. This along with the lack of concern for Tony’s well-being has shocked and disturbed those of us who are committed to Tony’s release to a sanctuary that can provide him with a natural spacious habitat, excellent medical care, proper diet, enrichment and a peaceful life cared for by those who have the utmost respect for him.
Driving along I-10 I saw the signs for exit 139 Grosse Tete and “LIVE TIGER ATTRACTION” It still seemed like a dream to me…I couldn’t believe I WAS GOING TO SEE TONY – a tiger, known and loved all over the world!
As I pulled into Tiger Truck Stop I was anxious to see Tony but remembered a friend’s accounts of visits where he stayed in his den or on top of it where you hardly could see him.
I parked and gathered my camera and phone and walked over to his cage…Tony emerged from his “den” – a handsome big beautiful tiger. I was overcome with mixed emotions: sadness, disbelief, joy, anger – I muttered something like: “Hi Tony, I’ve waited a long time to see you beautiful boy.”
I finally was able to see for myself his enclosure which is 4 compounds of concrete flooring with cinder-block dens and a small grassy area that had a ball; platform, old battered tire and what looked to be a kiddie pool in a wooden platform.
Tony paced from one compound through the grassy area and back again. It was extremely hot near 90. After pacing for quite some time, Tony retreated to one of the den platforms where he stayed for a while until he came down to eat.
I observed people who stopped to take a picture, locals talked amongst themselves how “they” tried to take Tony away from them; a man asked me where Tony was because it was difficult to see him on top of the den; after pointing out Tony to him he said: “This is bloody sad.”
A few days earlier I had visited Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. I had been to BCR a few years ago and on both occasions I kept thinking what a wonderful life Tony could have at such a sanctuary. BCR, along with The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado and Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone Minnesota all have standing offers of homes for Tony.
Tiger at Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL
For 14 years Tony has been exploited at the truck stop as a roadside attraction. He has become the “spokes-tiger” for captive tigers and big cats in the United States by networking the issue to people worldwide and gaining support in the U.S. for a federal ban on private ownership of big cats with the Big Cats & Public Safety Protection Act. United States Residents can take action by asking their Congress Members for their co-sponsorship and support of this bill; visit this link from Big Cat Rescue – Tampa FL:
It was very difficult to leave to Tony. I thought of how wonderful it would be to see this striped king running, splashing in a real pool or just resting peacefully in green grass – away from the noise, smells and gritty truck stop environment. I told him to stay strong and that we’ll never give up on getting him to a “good place.”
It was an honor to see Tony. I look forward to another visit – the next time at a sanctuary where Tony will truly be able to experience the magnificent cat he is and live in the home he deserves. Until then, I’ll continue to do whatever I can to support efforts for his release to such a place. Tony has captured the minds and hearts of people globally and his worldwide “army” will never stop roaring for him and his release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.
Stay Strong Tony
July 4th is a day when we celebrate our nation’s independence ~ in essence our freedom ~ in contrast it’s a fitting day (albeit disheartening) to also mark Tony’s 14 years at the truck stop – exploited as a roadside attraction.
According to the sign posted on Tony’s cage, he was born in July 2000 – this month marking his 14th year. It is reported that Tony was acquired by Michael Sandlin as a 6 month old cub from a Texas breeder.
Tony’s saga has been a roller-coaster series of events including:
ALDF’s court victories:
Judge Caldwell granting a permanent injunction blocking LDWF from issuing a new permit to him, and ordering the current permit revoked
The Louisiana Court of Appeal upholding the lower court’s rulings
The Louisiana Supreme Court denying a petition to review the Louisiana Court of Appeal’s ruling
And the shameful SB 250:
After exhausting all of his options via the courts, Michael Sandlin enlisted his state Senator, Rick Ward, to propose a bill, SB 250, to exempt himself from Louisiana state law banning private ownership of big cats. This outrageous bill passed both the Senate and House and was signed by Governor Jindal recently. Immediately the Animal Legal Defense issued a statement saying they would challenge the validity of SB 250. On June 25, 2014 ALDF filed suit against the State of Louisiana for violating the Louisiana Constitution by passing a law that exempts a single individual from existing state public safety and animal welfare laws. Defendants include the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Tiger Truck Stop, and Michael Sandlin. For complete information visit: http://aldf.org/press-room/press-releases/animal-legal-defense-fund-files-lawsuit-against-louisiana-for-violating-state-constitution-with-new-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger-law/
SB 250 supporters can argue interminably, but there is no justification whatsoever – legally, ethically or humanely – to make the case for Tony to be kept at the truck stop. Tony has been exploited for 14 years; tigers are not gimmicks, attractions, props or pets. They are magnificent, dangerous big cats who deserve our respect and protection. Tony deserves the opportunity to retire to a peaceful, healthy, natural environment. No animal should be exploited as a roadside attraction at a truck stop.
We support ALDF’s continued efforts to secure Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary, three of which have standing offers of a home for him:
Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida ~ http://bigcatrescue.org/
The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone MN ~ http://www.wildcatsanctuary.org/
The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg CO ~ http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/
We ask Tony’s friends to remain supportive and positive for Tony and continue to network for him:
- Tony’s change.org petition asking the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to enforce the law remains open:
Petitions are a good medium to keep people supportive, involved as well as demonstrate the interest and support Tony has worldwide.
Note: LDWF refused to enforce state law though they had the authority to seize Tony.
LDWF’s position statement on privately ownership of tigers:
“It is the Department’s position that private possession of tigers poses a significant hazard to public safety and is detrimental to the health of the animal. Prolonged confinement is by its nature stressful to tigers and proper long-term care by experienced persons is essential to the health of the animal.”
Join ~ Follow ~ Share these social networking sites for Tony
- If you visit Tony, document your visit with pictures and/or video and please share them. Send us a link via Twitter, on Tony’s Facebook page or email: email@example.com
If you visit Tony please share your pictures with us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks V. Perkins for these pictures taken June 2014.
Thanks to ALL of Tony’s friends – your support and dedication to this beautiful tiger is greatly appreciated and so very important in working towards the home and life Tony deserves
Special Thanks to Animal Legal Defense Fund for their extraordinary representation of Tony and dedication to him. Please visit their site to learn more about them and their tremendous work to help animals through the legal system and support their Animal Bill of Rights http://animalbillofrights.aldf.org/
We close with two videos: the first from ALDF when they visited Tony at the truck stop, and the second from Big Cat Rescue in Tampa FL of one of their residents TJ the tiger enjoying his “vacation” in their newly built 2.5 acre habitat “Vacation Rotation.” Our vision is to see Tony run, play, swim and experience the magnificent big cat he is at one of the sanctuaries aforementioned in this post and to “Be a Tiger” like TJ in this video. Those who deny Tony this opportunity truly lack compassion and respect for him but we are not deterred by their corrupt actions and ignorance.
We remain steadfast in our efforts to see Tony have the home, care and life he deserves.
Click on picture to go to video.
June 05, 2014
Opinions in the legislature were divided over whether a 550-pound Bengal tiger can find happiness living alone in a cage outside a truck stop in Grosse Tete.
No wonder Louisiana is in a pickle. A question that could not be regarded as worth debating in rational circles ate up hour after hour as the session neared its end. If legislators really wanted to know what Tony the Tiger thinks of his current accommodations, they needed only to imagine how they would like living in a cage, or in Grosse Tete or outside a truck stop, let alone all three.
Perhaps you think it a colossal waste of time even to consider a bill exempting truck stop owner Michael Sandlin from a law that bans the “private possession of big exotic cats.” If so, you are not cut out to be a legislator. The bill, after passing the Senate and stirring lengthy and heated exchanges in committee, took up an hour on the House floor, where the state’s $25 billion budget had just zipped through in less than five minutes. Members were reserving their mental powers for the Tony issue.
Naturally, they got it wrong. Any bill intended solely as a favor to an individual business is a perversion of the legislative process, but this one was on its way to Gov. Bobby Jindal after legislators accepted the absurd proposition that it would be an unkindness to release Tony to a huge and remote sanctuary.
Proponents of the bill claimed that animal rights extremists from California were behind the push to wrest Tony away from his tender-hearted owner. If Tony goes, they warned, LSU’s mascot, Mike the Tiger, will be next. It will be only a matter of time, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, warned in committee, before they come after our hunting dogs. Overheated imaginations are common in the Capitol.
Animal League Defense Fund representatives were there in opposition to the bill in committee, making it easier for the good ole boys to call for a united front against meddlesome outsiders. They’ve got some nerve coming down here and asking us to obey our own laws.
The law against private possession of big cats passed the House and Senate unanimously in 2006, and state courts have ordered Tony relocated. Sandlin bought time by filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban, but evidently decided he had a better chance of success in the long run by pre-empting the justice system and getting his friends in Baton Rouge to carve out an exemption.
LSU has had one for Mike since the law was passed. Zoos and wildlife centers were also included on a list of exemptions, to which Ward’s bill added “persons who continuously possessed their animal” since 2006. Thus, though this bill was strictly for Sandlin’s benefit, all long-time owners of lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards and cheetahs are now welcome in Louisiana. If a big cat ever escapes, let us hope it takes refuge in the Capitol grounds.
Sandlin’s family has owned gas stations here and in Texas for many years, exhibiting a succession of tigers to pack the crowds in. It has evidently worked, for Sandlin, by his own account, can afford to spend huge sums on creature comforts and veterinary care. He sees himself as contributing to the preservation of endangered species. He and supporters argue transferring Tony to a sanctuary would be traumatic or even fatal.
At the committee hearing, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wheeled out Pat Craig, director of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, which, one committee member noted, looked from a photograph like the Serengeti Plain. Tigers may have no ancestral affinity for the African landscape either, but we may take it for granted that roaming the sanctuary’s wide expanses would suit a tiger better than breathing in diesel fumes by the I-10 exit ramp. Craig said no cat had ever suffered ill effects from being transported to his place, and Tony would be welcome.
Sandlin, though he says he is devoted to Tony’s welfare, has been frequently cited by the United States Department of Agriculture for neglecting it. Since nobody is at the truck stop overnight, Tony’s current situation also presents an obvious risk to public safety.
If legislators want to do Sandlin a favor, they should just say so and not claim a tiger is better off in a cage. That can only leave us with the uneasy suspicion that they are dumb enough to believe it.
Re-posting from ALDF
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on May 22, 2014
Our campaign to free Tony the Tiger continues. What would it mean to “free” a 14 year-old Siberian-Bengal Tiger named Tony who has spent all his life in a small cage at a Louisiana truck stop? Freeing Tony would mean sending him to a reputable sanctuary, where he can finally have some peace in his lifetime and live like a tiger—rather than as a truck stop gimmick in a concrete prison pacing back and forth continuously, surrounded by noise and diesel truck exhaust. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has spent years in court fighting for Tony’s freedom. And we won—our victory was upheld by the Louisiana Court of Appeal, and the Louisiana State Supreme Court refused to revisit that decision. But Tony’s owner, having lost repeatedly in court, while continuing to display Tony illegally, has tried to sneak a bill, “SB 250,” through the Louisiana legislature that would allow him to skirt the law.
That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund works to protect animals by covering all the bases within the legal system. We work with legislatures to ensure laws reflect what’s best for animals. We work with law enforcement to ensure that these laws are actually enforced. And—in addition to our highly successful animal law education initiatives, with hundreds of student ALDF chapters in the top law schools in the land—when individuals violate the law, like Tony’s owner, we file suit and take them to court.
The Louisiana legislature is now considering “SB 250,” which, if passed, could essentially undo every victory ALDF has achieved for Tony and relegate him to a life living in a truck stop parking lot. The bill aims to “exempt certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” Exempting “certain persons” (meaning Tony’s owner) would not only remove Tony’s legal protections, but it would allow an individual like Tony’s owner to undermine the judicial process. Aside from keeping Tony imprisoned, passing such a bill would send the dangerous message that if you don’t like a law, you can just hire some lobbyists to try to rewrite it—in this case Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of tigers and other exotic cats. As that law’s sponsor, representative Warren Triche, notes, it was written specifically to prevent tragic situations like Tony’s. For this tiger, and for all animals, we must make it clear that playing fast and loose with the law is unacceptable, no matter how deep your pockets or how tight your political connections.
This frustrating saga shows how hard it is for animal advocates to protect animals. But long as we work together to unite all aspects of the legal system, from criminal justice to innovative litigation and legislative affairs, we will win the case against animal cruelty. It’s important that everyone stands up for animals and does their part.
Here at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we have a strong connection to Tony’s plight, and our hearts break at the possibility that he may never get his freedom. And if this kind of sneaky, back-door affront to our legal system is allowed to continue, many other tigers may face the same fate.
Tony urgently needs your help—please take action for Tony today, and read more about his story here.