Archive for the ‘USDA’ Tag

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

 

 

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

From ALDF: Tony, the Truck Stop Tiger 11.29.2012   Leave a comment

tony 01The Truck Stops Here…

From the stench of fuel to the drone of diesel engines and the isolation of his roadside prison, Tony, a 12 year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, has endured more than a decade of misery at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has taken to the Louisiana courts to free Tony the Tiger from this truck stop nightmare. We won our lawsuit to prevent Tony’s “owner” Michael Sandlin from renewing his permit, but Sandlin appealed, and we are waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear the case. Sandlin subsequently filed his own lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban on big cat ownership. ALDF sought to have the case dismissed and is waiting for the trial court to decide if the suit will move forward.

Sandlin has exploited tigers for over 20 years: buying, breeding, selling, and exhibiting tigers in poor conditions for his own profit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Sandlin’s truck stop in the past for unsanitary feeding practices; mishandling tigers; and failure to provide veterinary care, shelter from inclement weather, clean drinking water, and knowledgeable employees to care for the tigers. In 2003, Sandlin’s animal welfare violations sparked public outcry, and three tigers were removed to a Tennessee sanctuary. The USDA allowed Sandlin to keep one tiger: Tony. He has been alone ever since.tony 02

Life at the truck stop is harmful to an animal with such sensitive hearing and acute sense of smell, says veterinarian Jennifer Conrad, who has cared for captive large cats for nearly two decades. After visiting Tony, she declared he is “in poor condition and needs intervention on his behalf.” In addition to exposure to noise and diesel fumes, Tony is taunted by truck stop visitors. His enclosure lacks adequate enrichment. He has no pool of water to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer. As a result of this stressful confinement, Tony constantly paces in his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous and painful veterinary conditions.

His suffering demonstrates the problem of privately-owned tigers, whose numbers exceed that of wild tigers. There are less than 500 Siberian and only 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild. In their natural habitat, tigers live alone, travel many miles to hunt, and avoid humans.

ALDF Sues to Have Tony Freed

In 2010, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined by several Louisiana residents as co-plaintiffs, including Warren Triche, the state representative who authored the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of tigers. In November 2011, Judge Michael Caldwell ordered LDWF to revoke Sandlin’s permit and prohibited the agency from issuing future permits. Sandlin appealed this decision to the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit. We have briefed the case and are awaiting an oral argument date. Once the court hears our arguments, we will await a final decision. Meanwhile, Sandlin continues to exhibit Tony without a permit.

LDWF publicly stated it intends to enforce Louisiana law when litigation has concluded—although they could seize Tony now, at their discretion. State law bars Sandlin from owning and exhibiting a tiger because he did not legally own Tony when Louisiana’s big cat ban went into effect, and because Sandlin does not live on the premises where Tony is held captive. After all, who would want to live in a truck stop? Not Sandlin… and definitely not Tony.

ALDF Intervenes to Defend Big Cat Law

After losing his permit, Sandlin filed his own lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the LDWF, and Iberville Parish to overturn the state ban on private possession of big cats. This suit flies in the face of national sentiment, public safety, and animal welfare concerns. After the massacre of 48 exotic animals in Ohio in 2011, state and federal bills (like HR 4122) are being considered to prohibit ownership of big cats. Although ALDF was not named as a defendant in Sandlin’s suit, we successfully petitioned the court to allow us to intervene in the case to support Louisiana’s right to safeguard public safety and the welfare of animals like Tony. LDWF and ALDF each filed exceptions to Sandlin’s case, seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, and a decision is expected soon.

Next Steps: We Wait While Tony Paces

The world waits with bated breath for the results of ALDF’s suit and of Sandlin’s appeal. Meanwhile Tony remains trapped at the truck stop. ALDF’s legal battle for Tony has drawn support from high profile advocates like Leonardo DiCaprio and True Blood’s Kristin Bauer van Straten and has galvanized activists around the world. The law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. is providing pro bono assistance.

We are currently waiting for the Louisiana Court of Appeal to hear our case. We are also waiting for the trial court to decide if Sandlin’s suit will move forward. Tony’s fate is tied up in the courts, but ALDF is keeping the pressure on.

We will post updates on Tony’s case as they become available.

NOTE: Article courtesy of  Animal Legal Defense Fund. You can leave a comment of thanks to ALDF and support for Tony at the end of this article here: http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2233 on ALDF’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalLegalDefenseFund and retweet on Twitter: https://twitter.com/aldf/status/274297585769013248

Let’s continue our positive dedicated advocacy on behalf of Tony. Thank you.

ALDF: Strengthen Federal Law to Protect Big Cats   Leave a comment

Click the tiger’s picture to help big cats like Tony!

Please take action for big cats via this alert from The Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Via ALDF:

Many big cats such as Tony the truck stop tiger languish in deplorable conditions with no hope of freedom. Join us in urging Congressional representatives to support a new law to protect big cats from a similar fate.

Protect big cats and public safety!

In October 2011, sheriff’s deputies in Zanesville, Ohio responded to calls about a loose African lion and bear sighted by neighbors of an exotic animal “farm.” Officers soon discovered that the farm’s owner, Terry Thompson, had intentionally released over 50 exotic animals from his farm and then committed suicide. In the name of public safety, the deputies tracked down and shot the released animals. At the conclusion of the massacre, the pile of carcasses included 18 tigers, 17 African lions, and three mountain lions, as well as bears, wolves, and a baboon. Thompson had previous convictions for cruelty to animals and possession of illegal firearms.

This tragedy highlights the critical need for laws to prohibit possession of wild and exotic animals as “pets.” Among the problems caused by the wild animal trade:

  • In the U.S., an estimated 10,000 – 20,000 big cats are currently in private hands, causing significant public safety concerns by endangering neighbors — including children and pets — as well as officers who act as first responders.
  • The animals are frequently victims of neglect, living in deplorable conditions. Additionally, some captors might use the animals for illegal international trade in their parts.
  • Taxpayers and local agencies bear a high financial burden when dangerous animals escape or when they are seized due to cruelty and neglect.

The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 4122) would help stem the exotic “pet” trade by strengthening provisions in federal law by prohibiting future breeding, possessing, or owning of lions, tigers, and other big cats. The bill also would require people who currently possess big cats to register those animals with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This bill amends the Lacey Act, which already provides exemptions for government agencies and wildlife sanctuaries. H.R. 4122 adds an exemption for accredited zoos, too.

Take Action!

Urge your Congressional representative to support the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act to protect people and animals by completing the information to the right! H.R. 4122 has bipartisan support, but it is languishing in a subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Please take action today!

Visit: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5154/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10989

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

Note: This “park” was said to be the intended home for Tony if his owner, Michael Sandlin, is forced to give him up. Read more: http://theadvocate.com/news/1608646-123/oklahoma-park-probed-in-tiger.html

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

Park may have more dangerous predators than any other roadside zoo in the nation

May 16, 2012 – via The Humane Society of the United States


The Humane Society of the United States has released the results of an undercover investigation into an Oklahoma exotic animal park, where an investigator recorded tiger deaths, unwarranted breeding and dangerous incidents involving children and adults. HSUS undercover video footage taken at GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla. in the summer and fall of 2011 shows potentially illegal actions that imperil both animals and humans.

GW Exotic Animal Park houses approximately 200 tigers and other dangerous exotic animals and is acting as a petting zoo and traveling zoo that breeds tiger and bear cubs and allows the public to handle exotic animals for a fee, both at its own facility and at shopping malls and other venues around the country. The HSUS filed a series of complaints with state and federal authorities regarding potential legal violations, and called for strengthening certain areas of the law dealing with dangerous exotic wildlife.

The results of the investigation were first reported this morning by CBS News. The HSUS says it’s a dangerous situation for tigers and people, a hazard highlighted by the mass exotic animal tragedy the nation learned of last fall in Zanesville, Ohio. The president of GW Exotic Animal Park, Joe Schreibvogel, traveled to Ohio in April 2012 to lobby against Senate Bill 310, the bill introduced by state lawmakers to restrict the private ownership of dangerous captive wildlife in response to the Zanesville incident. At that time, he claimed that Terry Thompson was murdered by animal advocates to advance an agenda to ban private ownership of dangerous exotic pets.

At least five tigers died at the facility during the investigation – two of them had been sick for months and may have been shot by GW employees. A 6-year-old tiger named Hobbes died without receiving veterinary care and a 6-week-old cub being raised inside the GW owner’s house somehow sustained head injuries and had to be euthanized. And the death of 23 infant tigers at the facility over a 13-month period between 2009 and 2010 prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open an investigation into GW Exotics for the unexplained death rate at the park.

“GW Exotics may have more dangerous exotic animals than any other roadside zoo in the nation—with approximately five times as many predators as the late Terry Thompson of Zanesville, Ohio,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “At this facility, children are allowed to play with tigers as if they are domestic kittens, rather than wild cats soon to mature into the some of the world’s most lethal carnivores.”

The HSUS investigator witnessed or heard reports about numerous dangerous public interactions at GW—some with a nearly full-grown tiger—including at least six cases where visitors were bitten or scratched.

  • In August 2011, according to GW’s assistant park manager, three people suffered tiger bites at a fair, including one child whose bite became infected.
  • On Sept. 3, 2011, a tiger reportedly bit a young girl on her leg during the “play cage” portion of a tour.
  • On Sept. 11, 2011, a tiger cub scratched a young child while the child was posing for a picture.
  • On Sept. 17, 2011, a 20-week-old tiger named Dre knocked down and bit a small child. GW’s park manager told staff that the boy was bitten and scratched and that he would be bruised but that he (the manager) had “smoothed things over” with the mother and had her “sign the papers.” The next day, the same tiger was used for photo shoots at GW and photographers posed a small child bottle feeding the tiger.

The HSUS has filed complaints with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service seeking an investigation into potential violations of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, and Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act; with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act; and with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for potential violations of GW’s state commercial wildlife license. HSUS has also reached out to local law enforcement concerning the results of its investigation.

The HSUS is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to adopt regulations banning public contact with dangerous wild animals no matter the age of the animals. Current regulations generally allow public contact with tiger cubs between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks, and encourage the reckless over breeding of tiger cubs and surplus of captive adult tigers. The HSUS is also urging Congress to pass H.R. 4122, the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., to prohibit the private ownership and breeding of tigers and other dangerous big cats.

The investigative report is available here. B-roll video footage of the investigation is available for media download here and here.

Media Contact: Raul Arce-Contreras, 301.721.6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

Read Wayne’s blog on the Oklahoma investigation

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

From ALDF: Spotlight on Tony’s Pro Bono Team: Attorneys Frois, Pelleteri, and Sheely   Leave a comment

The Animal Legal Defense Fund would never be able to use the law to advance the interests of animals without the support of legal professionals nationwide. In this continuing series of spotlights, ALDF’s Animal Law Program salutes attorneys Monica Frois, Erin Pelleteri, and Brandy Sheely.

The laws intended to protect animals in this country are only as strong as the people willing to defend them. Thankfully for a lonely tiger named Tony, there are legal professionals like Monica Frois, Erin Pelleteri, and Brandy Sheely. Attorneys with New Orleans-based Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, this pro bono team has been providing tireless assistance to ALDF on behalf of Tony, an 11-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, who has been on exhibit as a roadside attraction at a Grosse Tete, La., truck stop since 2000.

The truck stop’s owner, Michael Sandlin, has continued to refuse to relinquish Tony, even though the big cat lives in a chain-link enclosure without trees, a large water feature, complex vegetation, or any of the other enrichment that would simulate a natural environment and allow him to perform innate behaviors. Confined to a cage in the parking lot, Tony — who in nature would be roaming at least several square miles of territory — paces the floor, a sign that he is experiencing extreme stress. And because Sandlin sent three other tigers away after the USDA placed a limit on how many he could exhibit, Tony has been living alone since 2003.

In 2011, Monica, Erin, and Brandy, together with ALDF, requested a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the annual permit that allows Sandlin to display Tony. On November 2, a Louisiana district judge granted the injunction, and although there is still more to do, this victory has helped pave the way for a future in which Tony can live in a sanctuary better suited to his needs.

“We’re relieved that Tony will be in an environment that is more humane and far more suitable than a cage at a truck stop,” says Monica. “We knew the law was on our side and are proud that we were able to assist the ALDF in ensuring that Tony’s cause was heard.”

Monica concentrates her practice on health care matters as well as complex litigation, insurance coverage, legal ethics, and professional responsibility litigation. She was appointed by the president of the Louisiana State Bar Association to serve on the Medical/Legal Interprofessional Committee of the Louisiana State Medical Society and Louisiana State Bar Association, a role that combined her experience representing the health care and legal industries. Monica graduated from Tulane University Law School in 1990.

Erin’s litigation experience includes defending insurers in matters related to serious personal injury, medical malpractice property claims, commercial general liability and premises liability. A 2006 graduate of Loyola University School of Law, she has also helped to defend nationwide collective actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act and related class actions across the country. Her tort experience includes defending against transportation-related claims in the railroad industry, product liability claims against equipment manufacturers and medical liability claims against a durable medical equipment provider.

Brandy earned her J.D. from Tulane University Law School, graduating magna cum laude in 2004. Like Monica, she concentrates her practice primarily in health care litigation, specifically in representing health care providers in medical malpractice and contract dispute claims. Brandy’s practice also includes business, bankruptcy, and commercial litigation, including the representation of secured creditors in connection with the enforcement and/or protection of their security interests in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts.

We at the Animal Legal Defense Fund are so grateful for the many hours of hard work these attorneys have devoted to assisting us in our legal quest to free Tony.

For more information about Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, please visit www.bakerdonelson.com. You can learn more about Tony’s case here.

To become a member of ALDF’s Animal Law Program and assist animals as part of our pro bono network, please complete and return our Attorney Membership Application.

Article Courtesy of The Animal Legal Defense Fund

Direct Link: http://www.aldf.org/article.php?id=1962

Ask Your Congressperson to Support H.R.4122 – The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act   Leave a comment

© Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources

Please ask your congressperson to support H.R.4122 – The Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act would prohibit private possession of big cats except at highly-qualified facilities like accredited zoos where they can be properly cared for and safely managed. 

Enter your zip code at this link: http://capwiz.com/bigcatrescue/issues/bills/?bill=61054001  for a fast easy way to voice your support of this bill and ask your congressperson to co-sponsor it. Please share the link. Thank You.

WWF – Latest News – Taking Tigers Out of American Backyards
Mar 01, 2012

Did you know that there are more tigers in American backyards than there are in the wild around the world?

Estimated at perhaps 5,000 tigers, they are found in:

  • backyards
  • urban apartments
  • sideshows
  • truck stops
  • private breeding facilities

For the past four years, WWF and TRAFFIC have raised the alarm on the lack of captive tiger regulation. Thanks to the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act” introduced by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) on February 29, 2012, the U.S. is now taking a step in the right direction.

“We welcome this important legislation because as the Zanesville incident showed, it’s critical for America to clear out captive big cats from our backyards,” says WWF’s Leigh Henry. “This is a matter not only of public safety, but also of preventing captive tigers from being fed into the massive illegal tiger trade driven by a booming black market for tiger products.”

If the bill passes, it will:

  • Prohibit private possession of big cats like tigers and lions except at highly-qualified facilities, like accredited zoos and sanctuaries, where they can be properly cared for and restrained.
  • Require any persons who currently possess big cats to register those animals with the USDA in order to keep the cats they currently own.
  • Outlaw the breeding of any big cat except at accredited zoos and research and educational institutions.

Violators could face stiff penalties including confiscation of animals, fines as much as $20,000 and up to five years in jail.

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is working on introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

Learn more
Watch a video to learn how captive tigers impact wild tigers
Is your toilet paper linked to tiger habitat destruction?

http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2012/WWFPresitem27118.html

“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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Possible new home for Truck Stop Tiger under investigation   Leave a comment

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 – 5:34pm

GROSS TETE, LA (NBC33) — An exotic animal park where Tony the Truck Stop tiger could end up is under investigation.

Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin has said that if the courts force him to relocate Tony from his roadside display in Gross Tete, he would send the big cat to GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

But the US Department of Agriculture began an investigation into that park last year after 23 tiger cubs died there.

They say they don’t know when the investigation will be completed.

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

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