Archive for the ‘USDA’ Tag

The Guardian: Meet Tony, the Truck Stop Mascot Dividing Louisiana   Leave a comment

James Gill: Bill just a favor to local business via @theadvocateno   Leave a comment

Click on picture to go to video.

Click on picture to go to video.

Advocate story
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.

http://theadvocate.com/columnists/9354782-55/james-gill-bill-just-a

Update On SB 250 ~ May 22, 2014   Leave a comment

la seal tony update

May 21, 2014: Louisiana House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment Meeting adjourned at appx. 1pmCST. SB 250 was NOT CALLED.

SB 250 is on the agenda again for May 28th @ 9:30amCST

Agenda: http://house.louisiana.gov/Agendas_2014/May_2014/0528_14_NR.pdf

The hearing is also live-streamed. Visit: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Home.aspx on the day of the hearing; we’ll posting more info also on May 28th.

joe e mike s 5.21.2014 revSeen at the May 21st hearing: Mr. Sandlin, Tony’s “owner,” along with the notorious tiger breeder/abuser/exploiter and AWA violator Joe Schreibvogel aka Joe Exotic aka Aarron Alex aka Cody Ryan. This individual owns GW Exotic Animal Park, a horrid roadside zoo that houses “approximately 200 tigers and other dangerous exotic animals.”

Learn more about Joe Schreibvogel and GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, OK at the links below, and keep in mind this is the facility Mr. Sandlin has stated he intends to send Tony to if forced to relocate the animal from his roadside display. (Reference: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/oklahoma-park-probed-in-tiger-cub-deaths/)

  • USDA Should Revoke Federal License of Nation’s Largest Big Cat Breeder

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2014/02/GW-License-Revocation.html

  • HSUS Undercover Investigation Reveals Dead Tigers, Safety Threats at Oklahoma’s GW Exotic Animal Park

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2012/05/ok_exotics_investigation.html

More time for Tony’s Army to ROAR!

Please see this link on how we can fight SB 250 ~ it’s especially important for Louisiana Residents to TAKE ACTION and those of us who are non-residents to share the information. Visit:

https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/how-we-can-all-help-tony/

Louisiana Senate PASSES SB 250 ~ TAKE ACTION NOW via @ALDF!   Leave a comment

May 13, 2014: The Louisiana Senate PASSED SB 250 by a vote of 20 YEAS to 18 NAYS. The bill is now “Pending House Referral” Track the bill here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=224278

TONY NEEDS LOUISIANA RESIDENTS to TAKE ACTION NOW by contacting their Louisiana House District Representative and asking them to OPPOSE SB 250.

Easy contact form: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5154/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17493

You can find out who your Representative is by inputting your address here: http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5154/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15813 Please follow up with a phone call. Louisiana Residents can simply say, “Hello. I am one of your constituents and I’m concerned about the welfare of captive tigers in our state. I would like you to vote AGAINST SB 250.”

Read more from Animal Legal Defense Fund:

Protect Tigers from Unlawful Captivity

We just got word from the Louisiana State Senate floor that a very dangerous bill is now one vote closer to becoming law. If it passes, SB 250 would create a “retroactive exemption” to Louisiana’s ban on possessing dangerous wild animals. Specifically, it would allow Tony the Tiger to remain caged as a truck-stop curiosity where he is subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day.

ALDF is on the ground in Louisiana fighting this bill, and we visited Tony the Tiger at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete in May of 2014. Here is the video we recorded:

 

As Louisiana supporters already know, this bill was designed to appease Michael Sandlin, whose captivity of Tony the Tiger was declared illegal by the Louisiana Court of Appeals in ALDF’s successful lawsuit. Sandlin has been repeatedly sanctioned by the USDA for numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act and had all of his other truck-stop tigers removed.

Louisiana law rightfully bans private ownership of tigers and other dangerous wild animals. There are a few exemptions, but the law itself is clear. ALDF opposes the possession of big cats because it is inhumane to the animals kept captive, and dangerous to people. Exemptions to the ban on dangerous wild animals waste the state’s resources and put animals in harm’s way simply to accommodate those who want to confine tigers, bears and other animals for entertainment or profit.

Take Action!

This outrageous “exemption” bill will soon be considered by the Louisiana House of Representatives. We need to pull out all of the stops—so are asking all Louisiana residents to contact Louisiana House Members right now to tell them that you strongly oppose any exemptions to animal protection laws.

tony-the-tiger-copyright-JS-2014

House Members need to hear from Louisiana residents only. Please send them a message, urging Louisiana Representatives to vote against SB 250. Join our fight against attempts to subvert animal protection laws in Louisiana. Residents can simply say, “Hello. I am one of your constituents and I’m concerned about the welfare of captive tigers in our state. I would like you to vote against SB 250.”

Take Action Button

For those who are out of state, please join us in sharing this news on social media, so that we can reach more Louisiana residents!

http://aldf.org/cases-campaigns/action-alerts/protect-tigers-from-unlawful-captivity/

Bill to keep Tony the Tiger at truck stop fails in Senate via @The_Gambit   Leave a comment

Posted by on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 5:55 PM

The Louisiana Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 250 from State Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, which aimed to exempt certain big-cat owners from a state law banning exotic pet ownership. The law would apply to Michael Sandlin, who owns the 13-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony, who has lived at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for more than a decade.

The bill passed the Senate’s Committee on Natural Resources April 15. The committee amended the bill to remove an exemption for people who hold a USDA Class C exhibitor’s license, a license which Sandlin possesses. Today, the Senate voted 18-19 against the measure. Ward’s bill attempted to undercut a 2006 state law banning private ownership of exotic pets by exempting those permit holders.

Attempts to remove Tony from the truck stop have been ongoing for years. More recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin’s petition in October 2013 to review the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling that Tony can’t live at the truck stop. In 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep Tony, and in April 2013, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal held that Sandlin can’t keep Tony, nor can he keep that permit.

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/blogofneworleans/archives/2014/04/28/bill-to-keep-tony-the-tiger-at-truck-stop-fails-in-senate

More on SB 250 from @BornFreeUSA, Ace Bourke and @2TheAdvocate   Leave a comment

BFF 05 trophy.aiFrom Born Free USA:

S.B. 250 Adds Another Exemption for Big Cat Ownership

Sponsor(s): Sen. Rick Ward (R-17)

Born Free USA Position: OPPOSE

Update (4/14/14): The Senate Committee on Natural Resources amended the bill and removed the most harmful line. These changes are reflected in the italicized and stricken portions of the Bill Description below.

Bill Description:
Under present law, the secretary of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is allowed to create rules to control the importation and private possession of big exotic cats. Current law also requires that these rules provide exceptions for big cats traditionally kept by colleges and universities, animal sanctuaries, zoos, wildlife research centers, and scientific organizations and for owners who can prove previous ownership.

This bill would add an additional exception for owners who hold a USDA Class C exhibitor’s license. It also allows retroactive application of this exemption, so that Class C exhibitors who had to give up their big cats before may be able to get them back. This bill defines previous ownership as persons who obtained their animal by lawful means and continuously possessed their animal since August 15, 2006.

Background:
Class C exhibitor licenses are surprisingly easy to obtain and extremely broad in their coverage. They represent the bare minimum of animal welfare and public safety standards that an exhibitor is expected to meet. These licenses are often obtained and used as a loophole by private owners who wish to circumvent restrictions on private ownership of species such as big cats.

These lax standards have resulted in numerous tragedies — including severe injury and even death for both humans and animals. See our exotic animal incidents database for examples.

Tony the Truck Stop Tiger is a prime example of why ownership of exotic animals should not be allowed under such loose standards and poor enforcement. Tony is kept isolated and on display at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana by his “owner,” Michael Sandlin, who possesses a Class C exhibitor license. His truck stop has been cited by the USDA in the past for unsanitary feeding practices, mishandling tigers, failure to provide veterinary care, lack of shelter from inclement weather, lack of clean drinking water, and no knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers — but his exhibit has not been shut down. This bill would ensure that operations like the Tiger Truck Stop are able to remain open under Louisiana law. The fight for Tony is ongoing (read more here), and we must try to prevent other animals from suffering in the same conditions.

Read the full text and follow its progress here.

http://www.bornfreeusa.org/legislation.php?p=4213&more=1

sb 250 2From Ace Bourke’s Blog:

Tony the Tiger – Please sign this new petition urgently!

SIGN THE PETITION HERE to OPPOSE SB 250 and to UPHOLD Louisiana State Law PROHIBITING private ownership of tigers.

Louisiana Senator Rick Ward has introduced bill SB 250 seeking to: “exempt certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules” (specifically to allow Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete Louisiana.) The bill is scheduled for Senate floor action TODAY.

Tony has been confined for all of his nearly 14 years. We all know that many many animals are confined and imprisoned all over the world, but somehow for me, Tony the Tiger – in a cage at a truck stop – is a symbol of all that is unacceptable in human-animal relationships.

Let’s do our best to get him released and make his last years peaceful and more enjoyable.

You can read more about the issue HERE and see what further actions we can take. Keep up to date with Tony the Tiger via Facebook and Twitter.

Please spread the word urgently!

Many thanks ACE

http://acebourke.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/tony-the-tiger-please-sign-this-new-petition-urgently/

ward pics

Sen. Ward’s Twitter profile picture (no longer posted)

From 2theadvocate:

Sen. Rick Ward sponsors a Bill that Exempts certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules. The bill is designed to appease Michael Sandlin, whose captivity of Tony the Tiger was declared illegal by the Louisiana Court of Appeals in ALDF’s successful lawsuit. For more information, visit http://legiscan.com/LA/amendment/SB250/id/15431 or https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/ and share your opinion.

NOTE: Your comments OPPOSING SB 250 NEEDED on this post from 2theadvocate Click here: https://www.facebook.com/2theadvocatebr/posts/617528398331137?stream_ref=10

State’s top court is next stop for tiger case   Leave a comment

adv tonyBY JOE GYAN JR.
Advocate staff writer
June 12, 2013

An attorney for a Grosse Tete truck stop and its owner said Tuesday the Louisiana Supreme Court will be the next stop in the case of Tony the truck stop tiger.

“We’re going to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Jennifer Treadway Morris, who represents Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin, said on the heels of an adverse state appellate court order.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday refused without comment to reconsider its April ruling that Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, cannot continue to be housed in an exhibit at Tiger Truck Stop off Interstate 10.

The panel on April 25 upheld a previous ruling by state District Judge Mike Caldwell 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.

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, he said.

The truck stop’s last annual state permit expired at the end of 2011.

The appellate court panel, however, overturned Caldwell’s decision to allow the nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund to intervene in the lawsuit on the side of four Louisiana residents who wanted Tony, now 12, sent to an accredited wildlife sanctuary.

In a related suit pending before state District Judge Janice Clark, Sandlin contends that a 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance should not be allowed to ban ownership of “wild, exotic or vicious animals for display or for exhibition.”

Sandlin, who has held a federal permit to keep tigers at the truck stop since 1988, argues a parish ordinance cannot ignore federal rules.

Tony has been at Tiger Truck Stop for more than a decade.

Sandlin also is challenging the legality of the 2006 state law that banned private ownership of large and exotic cats. The law does include a grandfather exception that allows people to keep exotic cats as pets as long as the animals were legally owned before Aug. 15, 2006, when the law went into effect.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has said previously that Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state. Sandlin maintains the tiger is well cared for, healthy and happy.

http://theadvocate.com/home/6223028-125/states-top-court-is-next

Article also appeared in:

http://www.katc.com/news/truck-stop-mulls-supreme-court-bid-to-keep-tiger/

http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/aafc48012f174359a104a1b980cedca6/LA–Truck-Stop-Tiger/

http://www.westport-news.com/news/science/article/Truck-stop-mulls-Supreme-Court-bid-to-keep-tiger-4596440.php

http://www.ktbs.com/story/22572952/truck-stop-mulls-supreme-court-bid-to-keep-tiger

 

 

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