Archive for the ‘privately owned tigers’ Tag

A Truck Stop is No Place for a Tiger! Why We Won’t Stop Fighting for Tony   Leave a comment

Posted on One Green Planet | April 20, 2017

by Stephen Wells – Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director

At this moment a 16-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony is caged at a gas station truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, 20 miles outside of Baton Rouge. Confined to a cramped metal cage, Tony breathes in diesel fumes daily while passersby tease and harass him. Tony has lived this way for nearly his entire life, and his circumstances are often a shock to the average person, who feels innately that this is not the right place for a tiger, especially an aging one with neglected veterinary needs. People ask, “how can this be legal?” and the Animal Legal Defense Fund believes firmly that it’s not. In fact, we’ve been fighting for over six years to have Tony relocated to a sanctuary that can meet his complex needs and give him the veterinary care he is entitled to. Our campaign to save Tony is now even more dire after reports raising concerns about Tony’s health.

Let Tony Live the Rest of His Days in Comfort

All across the world, people follow Tony’s story. Recently, we’ve received many reports from worried citizens stating that Tony appears lethargic and is experiencing diarrhea and a decreased appetite. The Animal Legal Defense Fund obtained photo and video evidence and enlisted the help of a veterinarian with experience treating exotic animals to review it. In the vet’s expert opinion, Tony is likely suffering from kyphosis of the spine and an injury or other condition that is causing him to limp. This isn’t run-of-the-mill aging; Tony needs help. Living at a truck stop is, at the least, exacerbating Tony’s poor health. While no animal is suited to living at a truck stop, tigers are particularly ill-equipped because of their sharp sense of smell and sensitive hearing. Independent of all our pending legal work to free Tony, the Animal Legal Defense Fund just submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which licenses the Truck Stop under the federal Animal Welfare Act, urging that Tony be inspected by a licensed specialist and given any necessary veterinary care.

The Legal Battle for Tony’s Safety

We believe that Tony, and all big cats held in captivity, deserve to live in environments that meet their psychological and physical needs. Our campaign to remove Tony from his particularly grim captivity at Tiger Truck Stop has been lengthy and determined. Michael Sandlin, the owner of the truck stop, however, has pulled out all the stops to keep Tony in captivity.  He has spent over $750,000 fighting our efforts and has also manipulated the legislative system by successfully lobbying the Louisiana legislature to pass a special exemption designed solely to benefit Sandlin and allow him to keep Tony. It’s no surprise that Sandlin puts up such a fight; he’s been exploiting tigers like Tony for decades, using them as a gimmick to lure customers to his gas station. The USDA has cited Sandlin numerous times for violations ranging from failure to provide veterinary care to lack of clean drinking water. In 2003, Sandlin relinquished three tigers amid public outrage over his treatment of the big cats. Only Tony remains.

Inspired in part by Tony’s plight, then Representative Warren Triche, Jr. introduced legislation in 2006 to ban private possession of big cats in Louisiana. The law passed, and while it was a tremendous win for the big cats saved from being the next Tony, Sandlin continued to hold Tony in violation of the law. The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to exhibit Tony. We were joined in the suit by former Rep. Triche, Jr. and several other Louisiana taxpayers. Both the trial court and the Louisiana Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony captive. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court let that decision stand. Still, Tony remained at the truck stop.

Despite the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s victory, which should have freed Tony and allowed him to be moved to sanctuary, Sandlin has been able to keep Tony in captivity because of two legal tactics that he has pursued relentlessly.

First, after the trial court ruled against Sandlin and while his appeal was pending, he filed a separate lawsuit challenging the big cat ban as unconstitutional.  The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with concerned Louisiana citizens, promptly filed a petition to intervene in that action to defend the constitutionality of the big cat ban.  Both the State of Louisiana and the Animal Legal Defense Fund argued Sandlin’s claims were barred because he failed to raise them in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s prior action.  Those arguments are still pending today, nearly five years later.

Second, Sandlin manipulated the legislative system by successfully lobbying the Louisiana legislature to pass Act 697, a special law designed to exempt Sandlin – and only Sandlin – from the big cat ban. It was signed into law by then Governor Jindal. The Animal Legal Defense Fund again immediately went to work, suing the state of Louisiana and arguing Act 697 violated the Louisiana Constitution because it was a “special law” designed to benefit one individual from existing state public safety and animal welfare laws. We were again joined in the suit by former Rep. Triche Jr. and other concerned Louisiana citizens.

We’re Not Giving Up

The Animal Legal Defense Fund recently combined its challenges to both of Sandlin’s legal tactics into the same action, filing an amended petition in intervention in Sandlin’s lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the big cat ban.  This will allow the Animal Legal Defense Fund — in one motion — to raise arguments both challenging the constitutionality of Act 697’s exemption for Tony and explain why Sandlin’s challenges to the big cat ban itself should fail.  A ruling in favor of the Animal Legal Defense Fund on such a motion should finally put an end to Sandlin’s legal tactics and provide a final resolution allowing Tony to be relocated to sanctuary.

As the world watches the ups and downs of the fight to save Tony, the tiger’s life remains essentially the same. He doesn’t know his story inspired a former Representative to come out of retirement to fight for him, or that the big cat ban will help others of his kind. All he knows is life in a cramped cage off the highway. Tony deserves the veterinary care he needs and to live out the rest of his life in peace. He doesn’t just deserve it, we believe he’s guaranteed it under the law. We won’t stop until Tony is safe.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/we-wont-stop-fighting-for-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger/

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

Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Legal Battle to Free Tony the Tiger Moves Forward   Leave a comment

Re-posting from Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Posted on March 28, 2017

Petition Filed to Intervene in Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Lawsuit 

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

BATON ROUGE, La. – This week, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an amended petition to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit against the state of Louisiana, as part of its campaign to free Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger held in a cage at Gross Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop. Michael Sandlin, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, keeps 16-year-old Tony in his gas station parking lot, amidst diesel fumes and the roar of the adjacent highway. The amended intervention petition is the latest step in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s years-long battle to have Tony moved to a reputable sanctuary.

Sandlin has been able to maintain captivity of Tony despite a state law banning private possession of big cats, because Sandlin successfully lobbied Louisiana to pass Act 697, a law exempting Sandlin – and only Sandlin – from the big cat ban. The Animal Legal Defense Fund argues that this “one man exemption” violates the state constitution, which prohibits “special laws” designed to benefit a specific private individual or interest.  The law firms Jones Walker, Proskauer Rose, and Baker Donelson are providing pro bono representation in the case.

“We have worked continuously to free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger for almost six years,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will continue to work on his behalf until he is relocated to a sanctuary equipped to meet his psychological and physical needs.”

Former Representative Warren Triche Jr. championed the 2006 ban on private possession of big, exotic cats. He was inspired, in part, to introduce the legislation by the reprehensible conditions that Tony is forced to endure. Former Representative Triche is now joining with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the amended petition to challenge Act 697 and restore the purpose of the original 2006 ban.

In August 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries after it unlawfully granted Sandlin an exhibition permit for Tony. The court ruled in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s favor and ordered the department to revoke Sandlin’s permit. The Louisiana Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in 2013, but Tony remains in captivity at the Tiger Truck Stop because of Act 697.

For more information visit, aldf.org

THANK YOU!! 1,000 RTs For Tony’s New Video!!   Leave a comment

A big THANK YOU to all of Tony’s friends for their tremendous support of his new video by The Dodo.
It’s received over 1,000 retweets on Tweeter and has over 395,000 views.

Please follow “TONY” on Twitter @TonyTiger2000 and @FreeTonyTiger

 

Tiger Has Been Stuck At Gas Station For 16 Years via @dodo   Leave a comment

Thank you to The Dodo for your support of Tony and his release to a reputable big cat sanctuary – three of which have standing offers of a home for him. We’re honored to have some our video footage used in the video.

Please leave positive comments at the link: https://www.thedodo.com/tiger-has-been-stuck-at-gas-station-for-16-years-2190029151.html

Videos like this keep Tony’s story active and raise awareness for Tony and the estimated 5,000-10,000 privately owned tigers in the United States.

Over 300,000 views on the video and 900 retweets on Twitter. If you tweet, please click here and retweet: https://twitter.com/dodo/status/819651189469872128

The Dodo’s Facebook post has over 4,200 shares and over 200 comments. See: https://www.facebook.com/DodoImpact/videos/1541396722544082/

Tony’s petition remains open with over 62,000 signatures: https://www.change.org/p/ldwf-enforce-louisiana-state-law-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

Thank you to everyone for your continued support and positive energy for Tony. Please share.

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