Archive for the ‘Robert Barham’ Tag

NY Times: A Tiger, a Truck Stop and a Pitched Legal Battle   Leave a comment

nyt tony

Tony, a Bengal-Siberian tiger, is kept on the premises at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Web sites have been created urging Tony’s removal, letters have been written, and public officials have been lobbied.

By
Published: March 27, 2013

GROSSE TETE, La. — The American truck stop is a promise of certain reliables: a shower, a warm meal, some small talk at the counter, a 24/7 source of diesel, beef jerky and cigarettes.

The truck stop here just west of Baton Rouge offers all those things, but as most southern Louisianians know, it has another less standard feature: a 550-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger.

Tony is only the latest in a line of tigers to live here. Thirteen cubs were born at the truck stop, and several adult tigers brought in, including a white tiger named Salena who died of pancreatic cancer in the early 2000s and is now stuffed and sitting in the Tiger Cafe atop the salad bar.

Tony, who is 12 years old, spends his days draped languidly on top of his cinder-block den or pacing around the grass in his 40-foot-by-80-foot caged enclosure on one side of the parking lot, seemingly as unriveted by the truckers as they are by him.

He also appears unmoved by his role at the center of a costly and complicated legal dispute, pitting claims of property rights against animal rights and prompting regular news reports about his impending removal. The legal fight has gone on for years. Tony remains.

“It’s become more of a liability than an asset,” said Michael Sandlin, 50, who has run the truck stop for the past 25 years. “But it’s not the money. It’s the principle.”

The Tiger Truck Stop has long been a thorn in the paw of animal rights organizations and many animal lovers generally. Web sites have been created urging Tony’s removal, letters have been written, public officials lobbied. Robert Barham, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, described “cases of mail from every state and a host of foreign countries.” Still, he said, state veterinarians sent to inspect Tony invariably returned with reports of good health.

Matthew Liebman, a lawyer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, based in California, acknowledged that Tony’s situation was not the worst he had ever seen, though he and others worry about the tiger’s constant exposure to exhaust and diesel fumes.

“The bottom line for us is that tigers don’t belong in truck stops,” Mr. Liebman said. “I think it reflects a pretty commodified, objectifying view of animals that we don’t support — that they are objects of entertainment, that they are gimmicks to sell gasoline.”

In 2006, the state passed a law that put limits on “big exotic cat” possession, but allowed anyone who owned such a cat at the time to be grandfathered in. Mr. Sandlin, who had kept tigers here for nearly two decades, was granted a permit for Tony. But in a 2011 trial, lawyers for the animal defense fund showed that a parish law that was on the books in 2006 prohibited keeping exotic animals and argued that he should not have been exempted from the new law. The judge agreed and ordered Mr. Sandlin’s state permit revoked.

Mr. Sandlin, who still has a federal permit, has appealed the decision, and has also filed a separate lawsuit arguing that the state law itself is unconstitutional because it is applied unevenly and leaves too much discretion to enforcement officials.

Still, he has been looking for a retirement home for Tony. This search generated its own outcry when he said he was leaning toward a wildlife park in Oklahoma owned by a man who calls himself Joe Exotic, but whose real name is Joe Schreibvogel.

Mr. Schreibvogel’s park has attracted a good deal of controversy itself and is being investigated by federal officials for 23 tiger cub deaths. But Mr. Sandlin said he believed that it provided good care, and did not trust others to know what was good for Tony.

“He’s used to the noise from the Interstate and the trucks,” Mr. Sandlin said. “He’s used to people coming up here and looking at him.”

“To tear him away from this,” he said, breaking off, then added, “I think it would be very cruel because that’s what he’s used to.”

Mr. Sandlin and his opponents see the world rather differently. The phrase “animal rights activist,” particularly if it means someone who would ban the private ownership of exotic animals, is to Mr. Sandlin a disparagement on its face. (A T-shirt for sale in the truck stop store reads “Animal Rights Activists Taste Like Chicken.”)

But he takes no offense when critics deride him as a purveyor of roadside entertainment. He considers himself an ally of the traveling circuses that occasionally stop here, and he allows the elephants to graze out back.

The idea of a tiger truck stop had been his father’s, but opening one here seemed particularly apt given that the mascot of nearby Louisiana State University is a tiger. (The university keeps its own tiger, Mike VI, in an enclosure next to the football stadium.)

So in 1988, Mr. Sandlin arrived from Houston with Toby and Rainbow, he a mostly Bengal mix, she a purebred Siberian. In 2000, after the sale of a tiger truck stop owned by Mr. Sandlin’s father in West Texas, Toby and Rainbow were joined by Tony and Salena.

In the ensuing years, the United States Department of Agriculture issued several citations to the truck stop, among other things for allowing cubs to run loose around the office. Mr. Sandlin paid a fine and sold all the tigers but Tony.

About 35 people work at the truck stop, including a sister of Michael Sandlin’s; a brother-in-law; a niece; a nephew; Mr. Sandlin’s mother, Virginia, who handles billing; and his domestic partner of 26 years, Scott Holbrook, who is the vice president of the truck stop as well as the video poker manager.

There is also a middle-aged man named Ray Jackson, who buses tables at the restaurant and who will sing on command. Seeing him outside the Tiger Cafe, Mr. Sandlin said the word and Mr. Jackson stopped immediately and sang “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross.”

“People get a kick out of that,” Mr. Sandlin said.

For now, there is the wait for a ruling. An immediate change is unlikely even then, but as a breed, the tiger truck stop’s days may be numbered.

“There are certainly some substandard roadside zoos,” Mr. Liebman said. “But this is the only truck stop tiger I know of.”

Photos: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2013/03/26/us/TIGER.html?ref=us

Direct Link To Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/us/truck-stop-tiger-in-louisiana-stirs-legal-battle.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Tony’s Petition ~ Nearing 25,000: http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

“How long should you try? Until.”   2 comments

Tony December 17, 2011 (Photo Courtesy of & ©Cloversweed 2011)

November 2 2012: Nearly three months have passed since the last court hearing on August 6, 2012 without a decision.  Tony  is being kept at the truck stop without a permit, i.e. illegally. In two court hearings, May 6th, 2011 and November 2nd, 2011, Judge Caldwell agreed with The Animal Legal Defense Fund (representing Tony) and their argument that the permit that allows his owner to keep Tony was unlawfully issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. On May 6th, 2011 Judge Caldwell granted a permanent injunction blocking LDWF from issuing a new permit to Tony’s owner, and on November 2, 2011 he again prohibited the LDWF from issuing any new permits to the truck stop and ordered the current permit revoked.

While we continue to wait, more importantly – so does Tony, and the best thing we can do is remain positive and supportive of him. Keeping Tony’s story networked so people know he is still at the truck stop is vital. While this is repetitive, please continue to share his petition, sign if you have not already, and share links for Tony on Facebook and Twitter. See below for more info.

December 24 2011: The recent articles about Tony and his possible move to an Oklahoma “exotic animal park” under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs as well as the conditions and practices of this “park” which include money-making schemes such as exploiting tiger cubs in hands-on exhibits and photo ops are of great concern to all of us.

This “facility” is also asking for donations to build Tony a habitat which demonstrates they are not prepared and not equipped to provide the proper home and care that Tony needs and deserves.

There are accredited reputable humane big cat sanctuaries that stand ready to give Tony the home, care, life and respect he deserves.

A sanctuary as defined in the Captive Wildlife Safety Act:

• Must be a non-profit entity that is tax exempt under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code
• Cannot engage in commercial trade in big cat species, including their offspring, parts, and products made from them
• Cannot breed big cats
• Cannot allow direct contact between big cats and the public at their facilities
• Must keep records of transactions involving covered cats
• Must allow the Service to inspect their facilities, records, and animals at reasonable hours

Reference: http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/CWSA_Factsheet.pdf

Clearly this Oklahoma facility does not comply with these regulations. It is imperative we continue our advocacy on behalf of Tony for his release to a sanctuary that is humane, reputable and in compliance with the above stipulations.

ALDF is well-aware of the this “animal park.” Posted by Animal Legal Defense Fund on December 6th, 2011: “Our attorneys are researching various legal strategies for ensuring that Tony goes to a reputable sanctuary, not a roadside zoo.  http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1891

How You Can Help Tony

  • Voice your concerns for Tony to The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for his release to a reputable, established, humane accredited big cat sanctuary that will meet all of his needs.

It’s very important that all correspondence for Tony be done in a respectable focused manner. While we are all very passionate and concerned about Tony, his health and welfare, please remember polite and focused letters have a better chance of being addressed and our concerns taken seriously. When you advocate for Tony, you are representing him – he deserves the utmost respect as do the individual(s) we are writing to.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Maria Davidson
Large Carnivore Program Manager
Louisiana Department Wildlife and Fisheries
5652 Highway 182
Opelousas LA 70570
Phone: (337) 948-0255
Fax: (337) 948-0213

e-mail: mdavidson@wlf.la.gov

Fred Kimmel (Ms. Davidson’s supervisor)
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: (225) 765-2355

e-mail: fkimmel@wlf.la.gov

Bo Boehringer
LDWF Press Secretary
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
2000 Quail Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: 225- 765-5115

e-mail: bboehringer@wlf.la.gov

Robert J. Barham, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
P.O. Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898
Phone: (225) 765-2623
Fax: (225) 765-2607

e-mail: rbarham@wlf.la.gov

e-mail: sfalcon@wlf.la.gov

web e-mail form: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/contact

Governor Bobby Jindal
Office of The Governor
P. O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
Phone: (225) 342-7015
Fax: (225) 342-7099

web e-mail form: http://www.gov.la.gov/index.cfm?md=form&tmp=email_governor

  • New Change.org Petition For Tony  – January 16, 2012  

http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

This petition asks the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to ensure Tony is released to a reputable sanctuary.

  • Care2 Petition For Tony CLOSED (53,614 Signatures)

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/129/272/008/ 

  • Comment on these recent articles:

Possible new home for Truck Stop Tiger under investigation
http://www.nbc33tv.com/all-about-animals/possible-new-home-for-truck-stop-tiger-under-investigation

Oklahoma park probed in tiger cub deaths
http://theadvocate.com/home/1608646-125/oklahoma-park-probed-in-tiger.html

  • Please continue to share these posts from The Animal Legal Defense Fund on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter:

Victory For Tony!! http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1859

ALDF’s page for Tony: http://www.aldf.org/tony

What Is Best For Tony? http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1861

ALDF Article: Making Sense of the Current Status of the Tony the Tiger Cases

Sincerest thanks to all of Tony’s friends for your concern, commitment and ongoing support of Tony. Together let’s continue to advocate for him and the home, life and care he deserves.

“Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Photos in this slideshow Courtesy of & ©Cloversweed 2011 Thank You for sharing your pictures of Tony all taken December17, 2011 with the exception of the one of Tony with his blue ball from May 2011. Direct link: https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.108864299212681.12944.100002673354863&type=3

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Today From The Organic View: Tony The Truck Stop Tiger: Animal Cruelty For Amusement   2 comments

The Organic View Radio Show host June Stoyer will speak to Big Cat expert, Laura Lassiter and Carter Dillard, the Director of Litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Tune in TODAY 4pm EST to hear about this wildlife cruelty case that has gained international attention. See more info at: http://ow.ly/4NfQb

From The Organic View:

Some people choose animals as companions. Then, there are others that choose to exploit, abuse and profit from their misery. Such is the case with a 10 year old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony. He has spent every day and night of the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana.

It’s no life for a tiger, or any other animal. On April 11, 2011, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Michael Sandlin to continue to exhibit Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop. This permit, that allows Tony to languish in a roadside cage, violates state law.  The case has reached international attention as people are aghast that such cruelty is tolerated in the United States.

Update On Tony’s ALDF Sponsored Petitions   Leave a comment

The petition on the ALDF site is currently at 22,552 signatures http://tinyurl.com/tonyaldfpet

The change.org petition currently has 3,960 signatures.

http://www.change.org/petitions/speak-out-for-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger

Signing these petitions are quick and easy ways you can show your support for Tony, and if you’ve already signed, please continue to share the links via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail etc.

The media attention for Tony has picked up significantly since The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and its Secretary Robert Barham. An internet news search of keywords: tiger truck stop Animal Legal Defense Fund will bring up articles on the web. Example:  http://tinyurl.com/tonynewssearch Taking a few minutes to comment on ones that allow commentary is just another way to voice your support for Tony. Also visit Tony’s “Take Action” page at: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/take-action/ for more ways to advocate for him.

If you have a Facebook account consider adding Tony’s pic badge to it. Visit: http://www.picbadges.com/tony-the-tiger/1593783/ You can also add it to your Twitter profile. Networking on Twitter for Tony is appreciated as well. Follow Tony @FreeTonyTiger and @TonyTiger2000 http://twitter.com/#!/FreeTonyTiger
http://twitter.com/#!/TonyTiger2000

Thank you for your dedication to the campaign to help Tony. It’s all of our combined efforts joined with the great support of organizations such as The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Big Cat Rescue of Tampa Florida, and change.org that keep this beautiful tiger’s plight in the minds and hearts of people worldwide as we work together to give Tony the home and life he deserves.

From The ALDF: Speak Out for Tony!   Leave a comment

Visit the direct link to this post at http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6207 to sign Tony’s petition. As of this posting there are over 9300 signatures. Thank you if you have already signed; please continue to share the link for Tony. Your support is much needed, very appreciated and so important. Also remember to sign and share Tony’s petition on change.org http://www.change.org/petitions/speak-out-for-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger

Speak Out for Tony!

Direct link to photo at ALDF: http://ow.ly/4ChdE

Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he has lived with no other tiger companions since 2003.

In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

On April 11, 2011, ALDF filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Sandlin to exhibit Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop.

Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the state of Louisiana to revoke the permit that allows Tony to be kept at the Tiger Truck Stop—a permit that violates both state and local ordinances designed to protect people and wild animals like Tony.

Sign the petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now!


Petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

I join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana, where he has lived with no other tiger companions since 2003.

Tony has spent every day and night of the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop, where he is subjected to the stench of fuel and the deafening noise of diesel engines 24-hours a day.

What’s more, Tony is frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions.

Tony’s confinement is clearly inhumane — and, as the Animal Legal Defense Fund is now arguing in court, it is also illegal, as your Department violated state law in granting Michael Sandlin’s permit. Please follow the regulations already set by the State of Louisiana to protect members of the public and tigers such as Tony by revoking Sandlin’s permit immediately.

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6207

ALDF Files Suit to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger   Leave a comment

The following release is from the Animal Legal Defense Fund who today filed a lawsuit against The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on behalf of Tony. Direct link: http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1675

ALDF Files Suit to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger

The stench of fuel. The deafening sound of diesel engines. The neverending boredom of captivity and isolation. Such are the conditions in which Tony, a 10-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, has spent every day and night of the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. It’s no life for a tiger, or any other animal. That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has filed a lawsuit in Louisiana, arguing that the permit that allows Tony to languish in a roadside cage violates state law.

Tony’s Tragedy
In addition to being subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, Tony is also frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His enclosure is devoid of adequate enrichment, such as logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions. Michael Sandlin, the owner of Tony and the truck stop, has been cited by the USDA due to violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including a lack of proper sanitation and improper feeding practices.

Year after year of living at the Tiger Truck Stop have taken their toll on Tony’s health. The ambient noise from the nearby freeway and the idling trucks, their diesel engines spewing noxious fumes directly into his enclosure, is painful and obtrusive to an animal with such sensitive hearing and an acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has 16 years of experience with captive large cats and has visited Tony. “Based on what I have observed of Tony’s enclosure at the Tiger Truck Stop and his behavior from video and photographs, it is my professional opinion that this tiger is in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf,” she says.

ALDF’s Argument
On April 11, 2011, ALDF filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and its secretary Robert Barham, arguing that he violated state law in granting a permit allowing Sandlin to exhibit Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop. Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law which led to the ban on the private ownership of tigers. Two other Louisiana residents, also deeply concerned by Tony’s long-time suffering, are additional co-plaintiffs.

At the heart of ALDF’s position is the fact that Sandlin’s current housing of Tony violates state and local laws. In 2006, the Louisiana state legislature unanimously passed Act 715, which required LDWF to control the private ownership of big cats. The department enacted regulations prohibiting citizens from keeping a tiger as a pet or exhibiting a tiger in the state. In passing these regulations, the department rightly declared that possession of big cats and certain other exotic animals poses significant hazards to public safety and health and is detrimental to the welfare of the animals.

The regulations provided an exception, however: individuals who legally owned big cats as of August 15, 2006, were grandfathered in. These owners would need to apply for an annual permit from the LDWF. An ordinance passed in Sandlin’s parish of Iberville in 1993 made it illegal for anyone to keep a tiger or other large exotic cat on his or her premises for exhibition. In other words, Sandlin did not qualify for the exception because he was not in legal possession of Tony. In addition, Sandlin is ineligible for the state’s grandfathering provision because he does not live on the premises where Tony is kept, contrary to regulations.

Despite the fact that Sandlin was ineligible for a grandfather permit, the LDWF nonetheless issued him one. ALDF is taking the department to court to invalidate this illegally-issued permit.—and free Tony from his troubled life at the truck stop.

Take Action
Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund in urging the state of Louisiana to revoke the permit that allows Tony to be kept at the Tiger Truck Stop—a permit that violates both state and local ordinances designed to protect people and wild animals like Tony.

Sign the petition to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries now!

With today’s announcement from The Animal Legal Defense Fund we are asking Free Tony The Tiger friends to please support the two ALDF petitions for Tony. As well as signing them, also share them via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, etc.

 Petitions Links:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6207

http://www.change.org/petitions/speak-out-for-tony-the-truck-stop-tiger

You can also show your thanks to ALDF and Krisitn at these links: 

ALDF on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnimalLegalDefenseFund

ALDF on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ALDFAnimalLaw

ALDF on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4hTHzh4M-o

 Kristin Bauer:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PamfromTrueBlood

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BauervanStraten

Kristin Bauer, the actress who portrays the lovely-but-lethal vampire Pam on HBO’s award-winning True Blood, has teamed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund in the fight to free Tony.

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