Legal battle over 'Tony the Tiger' will continue at State Supreme Court level

Photo provided by staff
All About Animals

POSTED: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 5:30pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 5:26pm

The fate of a famous Truck Stop Tiger is still up in the air, but Tony's owner is still fighting to keep him home in Grosse Tete.

Michael Sandlin asked the 1st Circuit Court of appeals to reconsider the April ruling that said Tony could not live at the truck stop and his permit was illegally granted. The circuit court refused, so now he's heading to the State Supreme Court for some answers.

It has been a long, expensive battle for Michael Sandlin to keep Tony, his 550 pound Siberian Bengal tiger.

"I’m not happy about the situation. It's been going on for 4 years," said Michael Sandlin.

That battle continues and the road ahead could get bumpy.

"It's more complex than viewers know about," said Michael Sandlin’s Attorney, Jennifer Treadway Morris.

The animal rights group fighting to free Tony from the truck stop is just waiting to see what happens at the state level.

"It seem evident he's trying to prolong the inevitable. The courts have made it pretty clear that he does not qualify, he lost at district court of appeals," said Matthew Liebman of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

At the state level, Michael hopes his case is recognized by the governor himself.

“We don’t understand why the governor hasn't picked up the phone and called Wildlife and Fisheries and said do your job,” noted Sandlin.

With the possibility of Tony being taken away, like any animal owner, Michael tries to be hopeful. But he still can't help but worry.

“It’s scary,” said Sandlin.

This four year battle to keep Tony at the Truck Stop is one step closer to and end.

“I will keep fighting and I will keep Tony home," stated Sandlin.

Sandlin has filed a completely different lawsuit against the state, stating that the current exotic animal ban is unconstitutional and discriminatory but that suit might not even be considered until the current legal battle is over.

Comments News Comments

Mr. Sandlins ignorance is frightening. But what is even scarier is than an entire legal system with the smarts to know right from wrong, etc. continues to stand by and let this occur. What a travesty that this has gone on so long? Whatever Tony has left of his life should be lived in a sanctuary, not in a prison. While his case drags on and on and on, why is it ok that Tony is kept in this horrible environment? Shame on those in power who can stop this NOW & don't....

Michael Sandlin is not happy about it? How has that poor tiger felt for the past ten years of his life??? I'm afraid that Sandlin will drag this on until poor Tony is dead. How ironic that he was named after a cartoon advertisement. The thing is that a cartoon is not a living, breathing creature who has to suffer to be used as an advertisement gimmick because of one man's greed...

Did anyone see the tiger pacing? Did anyone notice how loud it was there? What we could not detect, was the poisonous foul smell of fuel 24hrs a day! This tiger NEED to be removed from this torture chamber! There are quite a few excellent sanctuaries that would give this cat a good decent home to live out the remainder of his years ( hopefully he doesn't have lung cancer ) he would also be able to see other animals of his kind and get LOTS of much needed enrichment and stimulation. PLEASE HELP!!

Big cats are not pets and should not be kept in poor conditions like Tony with all the diesel fumes. Big cats belong either in the wild or in a facility that can care for their needs. Free Tony now, he's just a thing used to bring in customers like a toy. Private ownership needs stopping NOW.

If Tony is truly cared for, wouldn't his owner want the best possible home and life for him? Tony should be given the opportunity to retire to a peaceful, healthy, natural environment. Tigers are magnificent big cats who deserve our respect and protection - no animal should be exploited as a roadside attraction at a truck stop.

The lifespan of captive tigers is 15-20 years. According to the sign on his cage, Tony was born in July 2000 which will make him 13 next month. GFAS accredited sanctuaries have offered homes for Tony; one such sanctuary can provide a habitat of 8,000 sq ft or more, all natural substrate, perches, hammock, pool, toys/enrichment, access to an indoor temperature controlled building and a vet hospital on-site.. Keepers have 4 year zoology degrees. Impressive compared to Tony's prison-like enclosure.

Tony's owner is in violation of both local and state laws. Hearings, appeals, lawsuits continue, while 12 year old Tony remains at the truck stop. Mr. Sandlin states: “We don’t understand why the governor hasn't picked up the phone and called Wildlife and Fisheries and said do your job,” noted Sandlin. Yes, LDWF should do their job and enforce state law which prohibits private ownership of tigers; they have the authority to seize Tony but allow him to be kept illegally.

There is nothing wrong with rules & regulations to protect these exotic animals or to protect the public at large from be injured by them. However, to Ban ownership of them altogether is wrong.

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