Archive for the ‘matthew liebman’ Tag
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.
Thanks to these compassionate young people for caring about Tony and taking such positive measures to advocate on his behalf and to their teacher for providing such a wonderful animal advocacy project and selecting such an important issue – privately owned tigers in the U.S. As we say on Twitter – Tony IS the Captive Tiger Ambassador. Thank You Animal Legal Defense Fund for your dedicated & continued efforts to secure Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary. You have the support of Tony’s friends from all over the world.
Re-posting this from ALDF:
Students Speak Up for Tony the Tiger
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on May 8, 2015
Animal lawyers aren’t the only ones roaring about cruelty to captive animals like Tony the tiger. Kids care too. Tony’s plight—being confined at a Louisiana truck stop parking lot—and ALDF’s ongoing legal battle to release him from that concrete nightmare got the attention of one awesome 4th grade class at Guilmette Elementary School in Massachusetts.
This spring, Ms. Buck’s 4th grade class used Tony’s cause to shape a persuasive writing and research project. Students were so excited about Tony, Ms. Buck says, the project “took on a life of its own.” Students created posters and circulated petitions as part of this project, and wrote letters to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, asking him to take Tony’s suffering seriously.
In particular, students were impressed by ALDF senior attorney Matthew Liebman’s work—Matthew has led Tony’s legal battle for years. Ms. Buck explains:
During their research, the students learned about the Animal Legal Defense Fund… as they read articles about Tony in which you were quoted. They suggested that I forward a sample of their work to you directly because they believe you will be supportive of their efforts.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is touched and inspired by the dedication of these young advocates. Their letters urge fairness and humane treatment of animals like Tony, and his release to a reputable sanctuary. They also make persuasive arguments backed up with at least three points of solid evidence to prove their points and maintain a truly fair and balanced tone, appealing to the governor’s ethical and responsibility.
In conclusion, we respectfully ask you, Governor Jindal, to do what is right and fair. Hear our voice. –
Do you know how it feels to be locked up in a cage for 14 years? Tony does and that’s why I want Tony the Truck Stop Tiger to go to a sanctuary. –
[Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin] is threatening Tony’s and the public’s safety by keeping Tony. … In fact, Michael Sandlin got written up for “unsanitary feeding practices” by the USDA. –
Tony’s cage is like being locked up in jail. —
As Matthew told the children, “support from people like you keeps my spirits up and helps me keep fighting for his freedom. Your voices join thousands of people who are demanding that Tony be sent to a sanctuary. Sometimes, if enough people raise enough of a ruckus, things can change for the better. You should be proud of your contribution (and thankful you have a teacher who encourages this kind of civic participation). I hope Tony will one day be able to breathe clean air instead of diesel fumes and hear the grass rustling in the wind instead of the idling engines of trucks. Thanks for helping get him a step closer to that day!”
This outstanding class inspires each of us to keep fighting to protect animals. As Matthew says, “even though these battles can be frustrating and slow, don’t give up. The animals are counting on you to speak up for them. Your voice has power. Use it!”
Want to get your class involved in advocacy projects for animals? Check out ALDF’s brand-new youth advocacy action kit!
By Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
April 28, 2014 at 6:00 PM, updated April 28, 2014 at 9:50 PM
A Louisiana state senator hinted the Legislature dodged an unwanted national spotlight Monday (April 29) by narrowly voting down a bill that would let the owner of a truck stop off of Interstate 10 keep his roadside attraction, a Bengal-Siberian mix tiger.
But the sponsor of the bill, which the Senate voted down 19-18, recalled visiting the truck stop tiger as a boy and defended the owner as someone who cared for his tigers and always tried to comply with the ever-changing laws regulating exotic cats in Louisiana.
Senate Bill 250, sponsored by Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, aims to prevent the state from seizing Tony the tiger from Grosse Tete-located Tiger Truck Stop Inc. and its owner Michael Sandlin. Ward can bring the bill back up again and indicated he will.
Ownership and possession of the 14-year-old tiger, which lives in a 40-by-80-foot cage at the stop 20 minutes outside Baton Rouge, is currently up in the air pending litigation. Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin challenged the state’s attempt to remove Tony after the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in April that Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony was invalid because he is not Tony’s legal owner. Tiger Truck Stop Inc. has owned Tony since 2000, but new rules promulgated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries require the owner to be an individual, not a corporation.
Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, handed out photos of the tiger’s cage. “It’s a chain-link fence keeping in a Siberian tiger,” he said. Though pictures of the cage Morrell placed on desks of every senator played to the animal rights angle, Morrell kept much of his argument on the floor geared toward public safety.
Photos of Tony the tiger in his cage (above) at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, were handed out to lawmakers on the Louisiana Senate floor, along photos of the habitat of LSU’s Mike the Tiger, (below) for comparison. Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, distributed the photos in opposiion of a bill to allow the tiger’s owner to keep him there. (Emily Lane, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
He read over the microphone answers to some of the questions, which were part of the lawsuit evidence, posed to Tiger Truck Stop employees in the event that the tiger escape.
One employee said in the event of an escape, after notifying the area, calling animal control and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, he would “get whichever gun I would need.”
Another, asked the first action he would take in the event of an escape, answered, “Rescue everybody.” The same employee, asked what to do if he couldn’t find the tiger, answered: “‘Good question,'” then added, “Somebody’s gonna have to find him.”
The questionnaires also reveled all employees had attended a Wildlife and Fisheries hunter safety course and were trained to carry out the escape plan. Sandlin, though, when asked if he had read the escape plan, answered: “Insurance company wrote escape plan.”
The original version of the bill extended beyond just Tony, to other private owners of exotic cats. It also would have allowed Sandlin to continue to house tigers. But the version the Senate took up Monday makes an exception only for Tony.
“I remember going (to the Tiger Truck Stop) as a kid, growing up,” Ward, 31, said last week. His district includes the town in Iberville Parish where the truck stop is located. Ward said the Sandlins have a good track record of caring for the animals, as far as he knows, and he feel’s his permit should have been pulled because of retroactive rules added to the exotic cat statute. He echoed a concern voiced by Sandlin that relocating the tiger, which Sandlin said likely has six or seven years left, could be traumatic for the animal and possibly risk his health. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” Ward said of sponsoring the legislation.
Matthew Liebman, attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, of Cotati, Calif., said the assertion that relocating Tony could be harmful to the tiger a “sounds like a scare tactic to me.” Liebman represented plaintiffs in the legal battle. Maintaining the tiger in captivity, “and certainly at a truck stop,” raises humane concerns, as well as public safety, he said.
But Sandlin argued the public is “more likely to be attacked by a vending machine or a shopping cart at Albertsons than a wild animal.”
Sandlin said he’s spent more than $250,000 in fighting for Tony in court, and the tiger, at this point, is more of a liability than a financial asset. “But it’s not about the money.
“Over 25 years I’ve been bottle feeding them, wiping their buts, loving them and raising them…Every day I get to see the smiles of people’s faces, especially the children, that love to come stop here and see Tony.”
Sandlin said he was disappointed the addition of the amendment went short of grandfathering in his exhibit for the future, but the bill “would be a victory to get some justice” regarding Tony. He feels he’s been harassed and tried to follow the law, but new rules have “made criminals overnight” of law abiding, responsible private owners.
Morrell also noted the it sets a bad precedent to pass laws the could interfere or reverse rulings from the court system. Tony’s controversy has received interest from around the country and ink from the New York Times, prompting Sandlin to argue it’s mostly vocal activists outside of Louisiana who are advocating against his captivity at the truck stop.
The following was posted today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
Posted on October 7, 2013
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Last Friday, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeal in the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) ongoing case to protect Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete, Louisiana’s Tiger Truck Stop by Michael Sandlin. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep and exhibit Tony. With pro bono assistance from Baker Donelson, ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including Warren Triche, the state representative who authored the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of tigers. In April of this year, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are ineligible for a big cat permit and can no longer keep Tony. Sandlin sought review of that decision, but last Friday the state Supreme Court declined to take the case. Although Sandlin could appeal further to the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawsuit raises no issues of federal law, so the Court could not grant review.
Meanwhile, on October 5, an employee at G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma was attacked by an adult male tiger and almost lost her arm. Michael Sandlin has declared his intention to send Tony to G.W. Exotic if forced to relinquish him. The controversial zoo has been the subject of undercover investigations and houses more than 200 dangerous exotic animals that it breeds and uses for public interaction. ALDF is asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to investigate the horrific attack at G.W. Exotic. Given the animal welfare and public safety failings at G.W. Exotic, ALDF is calling on LDWF to ensure that Tony is transferred to a legitimate and reputable sanctuary. Sending Tony to G.W. Exotic would violate both Louisiana and Oklahoma state laws.
Still ongoing is Sandlin’s own lawsuit, alleging that the Louisiana state ban on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals is unconstitutional.
“We are relieved to see this case reach its end,” said Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Nearly three years after we asked the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries not to issue a permit to the Tiger Truck Stop, the highest court in the state has declined to prolong this case further. We call upon the Department to do the right thing and send Tony to a reputable sanctuary, before we face another tiger tragedy.”
Zoo worker attacked by tiger in OK
HSUS Undercover Investigation Reveals Dead Tigers, Safety Threats at Oklahoma’s GW Exotic Animal Park
LDWF: Ensure Tony The Tiger Is Released To A Reputable Sanctuary
NOTE: Senior attorney Matthew Liebman said the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be filing its opposition to Morris’ request. “The application is entirely without merit, yet another attempt by Mr. Sandlin to delay the inevitable and prolong Tony’s inhumane captivity,” he wrote in an email.
BY JOE GYAN JR.
Advocate staff writer
July 04, 2013
The fate of Tony the truck stop tiger is now in the hands of Louisiana’s highest court.
Jennifer Treadway Morris, an attorney for Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin, said Wednesday that she and fellow lawyer Paul Baier filed an appeal Tuesday at the state Supreme Court in New Orleans.
The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge ruled in April that the 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger mix cannot continue to be housed in an exhibit at the Grosse Tete truck stop where he has lived for 12 years. The appellate court refused last month to reconsider its decision.
The truck stop off Interstate 10 in Iberville Parish has been displaying tigers for 25 years.
“Michael Sandlin has exhibited tigers at Grosse Tete’s iconic Tiger Truck Stop for twenty-five years, to the delight of countless children, interstate travelers, and local citizens,” Morris and Baier state in the documents filed at the high court. “His capital investment as well as TTS’s property interest in Tony the Tiger are at stake.”
State District Judge Mike Caldwell ruled previously that a 2006 Louisiana law bars the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from renewing Sandlin’s permit to house Tony at the truck stop exhibit. The 1st Circuit’s April decision affirmed that ruling.
Caldwell concluded the department violated its own rules by exempting Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop from permit requirements for owners of big cats. The judge ruled that a state permit can be issued only to an individual, not a corporation. Tiger Truck Stop was the permit holder, not Sandlin, the judge said.
The truck stop’s last annual state permit expired at the end of 2011.
Sandlin contends he has held a federal permit to keep tigers at the truck stop since 1988.
Tony, the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state, is well cared for, healthy and happy, Sandlin has said.
Please see video at this article’s link noted at the end of this post.
POSTED: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 – 5:30pm
UPDATED: Sunday, June 16, 2013 – 3:00am
GROSS TETE, LA (NBC33) — The fate of a famous Truck Stop Tiger is still up in the air, but Tony’s owner is still fighting to keep him home in Grosse Tete.
Michael Sandlin asked the 1st Circuit Court of appeals to reconsider the April ruling that said Tony could not live at the truck stop and his permit was illegally granted. The circuit court refused, so now he’s heading to the State Supreme Court for some answers.
It has been a long, expensive battle for Michael Sandlin to keep Tony, his 550 pound Siberian Bengal tiger.
“I’m not happy about the situation. It’s been going on for 4 years,” said Michael Sandlin.
That battle continues and the road ahead could get bumpy.
“It’s more complex than viewers know about,” said Michael Sandlin’s Attorney, Jennifer Treadway Morris.
The animal rights group fighting to free Tony from the truck stop is just waiting to see what happens at the state level.
“It seem evident he’s trying to prolong the inevitable. The courts have made it pretty clear that he does not qualify, he lost at district court of appeals,” said Matthew Liebman of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
At the state level, Michael hopes his case is recognized by the governor himself.
“We don’t understand why the governor hasn’t picked up the phone and called Wildlife and Fisheries and said do your job,” noted Sandlin.
With the possibility of Tony being taken away, like any animal owner, Michael tries to be hopeful. But he still can’t help but worry.
“It’s scary,” said Sandlin.
This four year battle to keep Tony at the Truck Stop is one step closer to and end.
“I will keep fighting and I will keep Tony home,” stated Sandlin.
Sandlin has filed a completely different lawsuit against the state, stating that the current exotic animal ban is unconstitutional and discriminatory but that suit might not even be considered until the current legal battle is over.
NOTE: Please visit the article’s link for video: