Archive for the ‘Warren Triche’ Tag
Thank you to Anthony Eliseuson, Senior Staff Attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, for this post on LinkedIn for Tony.
Published on April 20, 2017
On behalf of the many attorneys working to help free Tony from his confinement at the Tiger Truck Stop, we wanted to provide on update on the status of the case and our efforts since we know many of you care as deeply as we do about Tony and are frustrated he still is stuck at the truck stop.
First, we recently filed a motion for leave to file an amended petition for intervention on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as Louisiana citizens John Kelleher and former state representative Warren Triche, Jr. to intervene in Michael Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s lawsuit challenging the big cat ban. The Court granted that motion for leave, and the amended petition is now deemed filed. This means that the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s claims challenging Act 697—a special law that was passed to allow Tiger Truck stop to keep Tony despite the big cat ban and the prior litigation victory enforcing that ban—are part of the case. The Animal Legal Defense Fund intends to demonstrate that Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution, including Article III, Section 12, which prohibits the Louisiana legislature from passing “special laws,” which are those laws “granting to any private corporation, association, or individual any special or exclusive right, privilege, or immunity.” La. Const. Art. III, sec. 12(A)(7). Importantly, if the Court agrees with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, it will mean that the exception in Act 697 is void, which will effectively restore the organization’s prior litigation victory that enforced the big cat ban with regard to the Tiger Truck Stop’s possession of Tony.
Second, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s role as an intervenor in this action will also allow it to defend the big cat ban itself from Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s constitutional challenges. While a victory for the Animal Legal Defense Fund on Act 697 would benefit Tony, a broader victory defeating Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop’s other constitutional challenges should ensure that there will never be another tiger at the Tiger Truck Stop and will also ensure the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries can prevent other persons or businesses from keeping tigers and other big cats in the future. Thus, while much of our focus remains on Tony, it is important to keep in mind that there are potentially broader ramifications at stake in this litigation to ensure that Louisiana can continue to prevent other wild big cats from being held in captivity in the future by enforcing the big cat ban.
Third, the Animal Legal Defense Fund wrote a letter to the USDA urging it to exercise its authority under the federal Animal Welfare Act to inspect Tiger Truck Stop and ensure Tony was receiving adequate veterinarian care. This letter was prompted both by public comments about Tony’s health as well as the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s own investigation and the analysis by a world-class tiger veterinarian expert. Based on videos and photographs of Tony taken by an the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s investigator, the expert identified two potentially significant medical issues with Tony: (1) Tony has a clearly defined kyphosis (or abnormal rounding) of the T-L spine; and (2) Tony is struggling to keep weight off his rear right foot to the point that it is having a significant impact to his gait, posture, tail movement and, ultimately, it appears to be limiting his normal activity and behavior patterns. Based on this analysis, the Animal Legal Defense Fund informed the USDA that a hands-on veterinary evaluation of Tony is required to determine the full nature and extent of his medical issues as well as the appropriate course of treatment.
Finally, the lawyers at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as the attorneys working with the organization on a pro bono basis at the law firms Jones Walker, Proskauer Rose, and Baker Donelson are also investigating and considering other options to try to help Tony and ensure he is released from the Tiger Truck Stop as he should have been when the Animal Legal Defense Fund successfully sued to enforce the big cat ban and secured an injunction against Tiger Truck Stop in 2013.
We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the litigation and our efforts to help Tony retire to a sanctuary and we hope to have more positive developments to report soon!
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.
Posted on May 30, 2014
For immediate release:
Megan Backus, ALDF
On May 30, 2014 the Louisiana House passed SB 250, a bill that subverts the intent of a 2006 state law prohibiting the importation and possession of big exotic cats. That dangerous wild animal ban was introduced by Rep. Warren Triche specifically with Tony the tiger’s deplorable captivity in mind, and passed unanimously in the Louisiana legislature. However, this new bill, SB 250, carves out a retroactive exemption to place Michael Sandlin above the law that applies to all other Louisiana citizens, and thus imposes a life sentence of caged solitary confinement upon Tony. It further could open the door to Louisiana becoming a safe haven for unscrupulous owners to bring exotic animals from other states.
SB 250 also directly overturns a judicial decision made by the Louisiana Court of Appeal in ALDF’s victorious lawsuit. We have worked long and hard to free Tony the Tiger from life at a truck stop and send him to a reputable sanctuary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary was willing to provide this care and sanctuary for Tony, so that Tony might live out his remaining years in sanctuary rather than a gas station parking lot. The Wild Animal Sanctuary’s executive director Pat Craig, along with ALDF’s Carter Dillard and Chris Green, testified before the legislature and provided expert advice and recommendations in the best interest of Tony.
The bill has not been signed by Governor Bobby Jindal, and ALDF’s next step is to urge Governor Jindal to veto this bill and decline to set such a perilous precedent. Allowing an individual to override court decisions and violate local and state laws in order to retain possession of a dangerous wild animal invites other would-be big exotic cat owners to come forward requesting their own exemptions to state and local laws. Not only would this be a further waste of taxpayer money and a subversion of the legal system, but it would mean more animals suffering the way that Tony continues to suffer every day.
Re-posting from ALDF
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on May 22, 2014
Our campaign to free Tony the Tiger continues. What would it mean to “free” a 14 year-old Siberian-Bengal Tiger named Tony who has spent all his life in a small cage at a Louisiana truck stop? Freeing Tony would mean sending him to a reputable sanctuary, where he can finally have some peace in his lifetime and live like a tiger—rather than as a truck stop gimmick in a concrete prison pacing back and forth continuously, surrounded by noise and diesel truck exhaust. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has spent years in court fighting for Tony’s freedom. And we won—our victory was upheld by the Louisiana Court of Appeal, and the Louisiana State Supreme Court refused to revisit that decision. But Tony’s owner, having lost repeatedly in court, while continuing to display Tony illegally, has tried to sneak a bill, “SB 250,” through the Louisiana legislature that would allow him to skirt the law.
That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund works to protect animals by covering all the bases within the legal system. We work with legislatures to ensure laws reflect what’s best for animals. We work with law enforcement to ensure that these laws are actually enforced. And—in addition to our highly successful animal law education initiatives, with hundreds of student ALDF chapters in the top law schools in the land—when individuals violate the law, like Tony’s owner, we file suit and take them to court.
The Louisiana legislature is now considering “SB 250,” which, if passed, could essentially undo every victory ALDF has achieved for Tony and relegate him to a life living in a truck stop parking lot. The bill aims to “exempt certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” Exempting “certain persons” (meaning Tony’s owner) would not only remove Tony’s legal protections, but it would allow an individual like Tony’s owner to undermine the judicial process. Aside from keeping Tony imprisoned, passing such a bill would send the dangerous message that if you don’t like a law, you can just hire some lobbyists to try to rewrite it—in this case Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of tigers and other exotic cats. As that law’s sponsor, representative Warren Triche, notes, it was written specifically to prevent tragic situations like Tony’s. For this tiger, and for all animals, we must make it clear that playing fast and loose with the law is unacceptable, no matter how deep your pockets or how tight your political connections.
This frustrating saga shows how hard it is for animal advocates to protect animals. But long as we work together to unite all aspects of the legal system, from criminal justice to innovative litigation and legislative affairs, we will win the case against animal cruelty. It’s important that everyone stands up for animals and does their part.
Here at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we have a strong connection to Tony’s plight, and our hearts break at the possibility that he may never get his freedom. And if this kind of sneaky, back-door affront to our legal system is allowed to continue, many other tigers may face the same fate.
Tony urgently needs your help—please take action for Tony today, and read more about his story here.
Note: As a Louisiana State Representative in 2006, Warren Triche, Jr. sponsored the bill limiting or restricting the private ownership of big cats.
Please continue to take action against SB 250 which is still listed as “Subject To Call.” You can track the bill here: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/BillInfo.aspx?i=224278
It is especially important for Louisiana Residents to demonstrate their opposition to this bill. An easy contact form from ASPCA can be found at: http://www.capwiz.com/aspca/issues/alert/?alertid=63198706&type=ST&&from=advocacycenterlanding Please follow-up with a phone call to your Senator. More information provided at the aforementioned link.
Actions for Louisiana Non-Residents: https://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/update-on-sb-250-keep-the-pressure-on/
Please also leave your comments against SB 250 at the direct link to this article: http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/opinion/9129026-171/letter-bill-would-reverse-protection
Let’s continue to stand strong against this egregious bill specifically targeted to KEEP Tony at the truck stop.
Letter: Bill would reverse protection
As I understand the present-day scenario for Tony the Tiger’s situation, I would like to present the following for the general public’s information.
In 2006, as a Louisiana state representative, I sponsored the bill limiting or restricting the private ownership of large cats, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the Legislature. One of the animals we were specifically concerned about was a Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony.
Tony now stands to lose his hard-won legal protections because of a bill about to cross our state Senate floor. The tiger already has spent too many years pacing away at a local truck stop as a business gimmick for Tony’s keeper — do you think this is what Louisiana voters want? Tony deserves to be protected by the law, and Louisianans are calling on public servants within the state Legislature to defend existing protections for tigers.
This bill, Senate Bill 250, was rushed through a Senate committee last month with very little, if any, notice to those who would have appeared at the hearing to oppose the measure. With it, it seems there is an attempt now being made to circumvent a decision that has already been decided by the three-tiered court system, including the Appeals and the Supreme Court. Apparently, this is a back-door approach through the legislative process to undo what the courts have decided, by making a grandfather-type clause for Tony’s continued captivity.
Beginning in 2000, Tony has been displayed at the truck stop and subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise in a concrete-floored cage for more than a decade. That’s why — along with Louisiana taxpayers and the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund — many, many concerned citizens and groups have been involved in a yearslong battle to ensure that Tony’s best interests are protected by law. In 2011, we successfully sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing Tony’s keeper(s) a permit to continue exhibiting Tony. In April 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that Tony’s owner was ineligible for a permit to continue Tony’s captivity. This victory was allowed to stand by the Louisiana Supreme Court in October.
We hope our fellow lawmakers will do their just service to our state — and to Tony — and uphold the laws of the land. Tigers of Tony’s age are retired to sanctuaries all the time, and moving him should pose little risk, if done properly. Let us allow Tony to live out his remaining years in the quiet, clean air and soft grasses of a reputable sanctuary, as he deserves.
Warren Triche Jr.
Former State Representative
The following posted today from the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
Posted on April 22, 2014
Special Exemption Would Keep Tiger at Gross Tete Truck Stop; Advocates Urge Immediate Action
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
BATON ROUGE — The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is calling on the Louisiana state legislature today to defend existing protections for tigers, in light of a bill that could undo every victory made by the organization on Tony the tiger’s behalf. On April 9th, with less than one day’s notice, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources rushed through approval of “SB 250.” SB 250 undermines a 2006 state law that bans private ownership of tigers and other large exotic cats by exempting “certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.” The bill is an attempt to retroactively remove Tony’s protection under the 2006 law, and allow Michael Sandlin to retain possession of Tony—a 14 year old Siberian Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete’sTiger Truck Stop by Sandlin in violation of the state ban. The Senate is expected to debate the measure today.
Sandlin has been in illegal possession of Tony the tiger since 2000, displaying him in a cage at the Gross Tete truckstop where he is subjected to harmful fumes and excessive noise. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to keep and exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including former Rep. Warren Triche, Jr, the sponsor of the 2006 ban, and has been receiving pro bono assistance from the law firm Baker Donelson. In April 2013, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin’s petition and let that decision stand.Triche explained, “Tony’s situation played a principal role in passing the 2006 bill, as he was a perfect example of why such legislation was needed.”
“ALDF’s Court of Appeals victory to help protect Tony the tiger still stands, yet Sandlin continues to try to undermine the law, year after year,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund.“This bill was deviously snuck in the back door, with no notice, and is one more attempt from Sandlin to say he is not accountable by law and should receive special favors—Tony deserves the court to uphold the law.”
Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.
The following was posted today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
Posted on October 7, 2013
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Last Friday, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeal in the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) ongoing case to protect Tony, the Siberian-Bengal tiger confined at Grosse Tete, Louisiana’s Tiger Truck Stop by Michael Sandlin. In 2011, ALDF sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep and exhibit Tony. With pro bono assistance from Baker Donelson, ALDF was joined in the suit by several Louisiana taxpayers, including Warren Triche, the state representative who authored the Louisiana state law banning private ownership of tigers. In April of this year, the Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are ineligible for a big cat permit and can no longer keep Tony. Sandlin sought review of that decision, but last Friday the state Supreme Court declined to take the case. Although Sandlin could appeal further to the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawsuit raises no issues of federal law, so the Court could not grant review.
Meanwhile, on October 5, an employee at G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma was attacked by an adult male tiger and almost lost her arm. Michael Sandlin has declared his intention to send Tony to G.W. Exotic if forced to relinquish him. The controversial zoo has been the subject of undercover investigations and houses more than 200 dangerous exotic animals that it breeds and uses for public interaction. ALDF is asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to investigate the horrific attack at G.W. Exotic. Given the animal welfare and public safety failings at G.W. Exotic, ALDF is calling on LDWF to ensure that Tony is transferred to a legitimate and reputable sanctuary. Sending Tony to G.W. Exotic would violate both Louisiana and Oklahoma state laws.
Still ongoing is Sandlin’s own lawsuit, alleging that the Louisiana state ban on private ownership of dangerous exotic animals is unconstitutional.
“We are relieved to see this case reach its end,” said Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Nearly three years after we asked the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries not to issue a permit to the Tiger Truck Stop, the highest court in the state has declined to prolong this case further. We call upon the Department to do the right thing and send Tony to a reputable sanctuary, before we face another tiger tragedy.”
Zoo worker attacked by tiger in OK
HSUS Undercover Investigation Reveals Dead Tigers, Safety Threats at Oklahoma’s GW Exotic Animal Park
LDWF: Ensure Tony The Tiger Is Released To A Reputable Sanctuary