Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries to be sued for tiger at truck stop

Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries to be sued for tiger at truck stop
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POSTED: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 12:02pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 8:37am

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stating that they violated state law in granting a permit allowing a Siberian-Bengal tiger to be displayed at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La.

“Tony the Tiger” has been at the truck stop since 2000; he has lived there with no other tiger companions since 2003.

Joining ALDF as a co-plaintiff in the case is former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, who authored the state’s law which led to the ban on the private ownership of big exotic cats, including tigers.

The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bono assistance with the lawsuit.

Tony is subjected to noise and diesel fumes 24-hours a day, and is frequently harassed and taunted by visitors at the truck stop. His cage has no logs, trees, or complex vegetation that would allow him to engage in natural tiger behaviors. He has no pool of water large enough to allow him to submerge himself to cool off in the blazing heat of the summer.

As a result of the stress of his confinement, Tony constantly paces on the hard concrete surface of his enclosure, putting him at risk for dangerous veterinary conditions.

“Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department has disregarded state law and misused taxpayer money in arbitrarily granting the permit that allows Michael Sandlin to keep Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will keep fighting until Tony is no longer subjected to diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.”

NBC33 contacted the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and that they had not received a copy of the lawsuit as of yesterday and could not comment on pending litigation.

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Send Tony to a Sanctuary ASAP.

FIRE THEM ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL THEY MUST BE TAKING KICK BACKS TO ALLOW THIS PERMIT AGAIN !!

This is so disgusting. It makes me ill. Sometimes it feels like half the world is moving forward, and becoming more aware, compassionate and educated - while the rest is plunging back into the middle ages.

This is outrageous!!! How can it be allowed to continue in this day and age?!?!

This ridiculous injustice has gone on WAY TOO LONG! The State of Louisiana has to know that Tony the Truck Stop Tiger's plight has been publicized on Facebook, Twitter, through countless media outlets and the fact that all the petitions and calls and protests made thus far to the Governor, State and Local Officials make it look like Tony's owner has a few politicians in his hip pocket. All have turned a deaf ear claiming there is nothing that can be done while RENEWING the man's permit! I salute the ADLF for initiating this action. Tony needs to spend the rest of his life in a Big Cat Sanctuary not on cement smelling gas fumes! PLEASE SUPPORT THIS ACTION EVERYONE!

This ridiculous injustice has gone on WAY TOO LONG! The State of Louisiana has to know that Tony the Truck Stop Tiger's plight has been publicized on Facebook, Twitter, through countless media outlets and the fact that all the petitions and calls and protests made thus far to the Governor, State and Local Officials make it look like Tony's owner has a few politicians in his hip pocket. All have turned a deaf ear claiming there is nothing that can be done while RENEWING the man's permit! I salute the ADLF for initiating this action. Tony needs to spend the rest of his life in a Big Cat Sanctuary not on cement smelling gas fumes! PLEASE SUPPORT THIS ACTION EVERYONE!

It's terribly sad that this poor tiger has been "caged" like this for going on 11 years. We have stopped at the truck stop on our way to and from Dallas / Florida. You can see the stress by his pacing. He has no enrichment to keep him emotionally sound and is subject to taunting by onlookers. A very serioius concern, is there is absolutely NO security to protect the animal if some crazy person came by and threw meat filled with poison in it - or had a gun and decided to put the animal out of his misery. One time we watched for over 30 minutes - not one single person appeared from the truck stop to check on Tony. A person with a dog walked over to the cage and let the dog bark constantly at the tiger which was obviously upsetting to the animal. It's time Tony was released to a sanctuary that would love him and treat him with dignity.

Tony would be moved to a sanctuary for Big Cats. These sanctuaries are refuges for abused animals such as Tony. They are NOT put on display, nor taught tricks of any kind. They are put into an enclosure which is similar to the animal's natural habitat and they are carefully, and lovingly worked with. I suggest you go to Big Cat Rescue ... bigcatrescue.org
to see the wonderful work they do with these sad animals.

This is animal abuse pure and simple! Sandlin is not an animal lover if he keeps Tony in these conditions. Enough is enough...let Tony go to a sanctuary for the rest of his life so he can finally enjoy it and put Sandlin in the cage and see how he likes it! Shame on the inept gov't agencies who can't protect an innocent animal and have allowed this to go on for so long. Good luck ALDF and thanks for advocating for Tony!

Free Tony the Tiger! What disgrace that Tony has been on display, alone for 10 years so some jerk can make money off him. The Dept of Wildlife should have never given these fools a permit, I am glad they are being sued! Maybe the Dept of Wildlife will be forced to do the right thing and send him to sanctuary.

Lock them up in that horrid place for 10 years without companionship. And have everyone stare at them. FREE TONY NOW.

FREE TONY NOW!!! This poor boy needs to get to an appropriate living situation far away from the lights, noise and pollution of a truck stop/gas station!!! I hope the ALDF kicks legal butt and finally convinces the authorities that Tony needs a real home suitable for a tiger!!!

I live in Maine, and I just learned of the horrific life that my fellow humans have subjected Tony to for so long. My heart is breaking for this poor tiger. What a shame that we have to work through the legal system while his life wastes away and he suffers every minute of every day year after year. Why can't we just be decent and give him the freedom, peace, and comfort that he so deserves. I send my gratitude to ALDF for dedicating its efforts to helping Tony in the only apparently humanly possible way....we are a pathetic and embarrassing species, we humans, and we have a long way yet to evolve.

Okay, imprisoning this beautiful tiger is just wrong — anyone can see that. It's horrific that this could be allowed to go on for any length of time, much less 10 years! I'm from Maine, and I just learned about this, and I'm utterly heartbroken for Tony that his life has been so miserable for so long. ALDF, thank you for doing everything that can be done to help him — although it's ridiculous that our society can't simply work on common decency and that we have to work through the legal system! This creature is no one's property.

This is an utter disgrace. Free this poor animal. Passers by at the truck stop DO NOT need amusement. I'm ashamed our society has allowed a healthy wild Tiger to sit in a miserable cage on the side of the interstate---ALONE---for 10 YEARS. Lots of people need to be completely ashamed of themselves. LET TONY GO FREE--HE HAS SUFFERED IMPRISONMENT FOR LONG ENOUGH!!!!!

Shameful. You would think we would have evolved beyond this sort of thing. At least something can and should be done about it. ALDF and everyone else who are fighting for this are to be commended for their efforts.

I was hoping this story wasn't true when I first heard about it. You would think we would have evolved beyond this sort of thing. At least something can and should be done about it. ALDF is to be commended once again for their efforts.

I hope the ALDF will finally find peace for Tony. People are obviously opposed to the way he is treated and need to speak up on Tony's behalf. He has paid with his life so that Mr. Sandlin can have a "roadside attraction". The politicians and people running the Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife should be ashamed of themselves. They really should be charged with animal cruelty as well.

Thank you Animal Legal Defense Fund for letting Louisiana know that they can't just change the laws in place to placate one individual, who blatantly and cruely has refused to admit that he can not take care of Tony the Tiger. Michael Sandlin, in January 2011 was spoken to by the USDA regarding Tony being extremely underweight for a Tiger, he is not being fed properly, this is not the way a man who claims to "love him like family" would treat his so called family if he cared. 11 YEARS AND LOUISIANA NEEDS TO STOP DOING ALLEGED FAVORS TO STAY ELECTED AND IN OFFICE AND PUT THE GOOD OL BOY POLITICS AWAY. WE ARE ALL WATCHING YOU LOUISIANA, LIKE WE TOLD YOU, THERE ARE OVER 25,000 PLUS THOUSAND FIGHTING FOR TONYS FREEDOM AND WE ARE NOT BUDGING. SANDLIN NEEDS TO RETIRE TONY now and send him to an accredited sanctuary. now. Tony does not have much time, his care is poor and has never once had a blood test....imagine. Now lets stand behind the ALDF and all efforts to Free Tony before its too late.
"Animals are not property
they are not ours to use
they are an end unto themselves
Their Freedom is beautiful, and their slavery is horror"
-Bold Native 2010
...

Tony looks miserable and depressed. Tony has lead a life of the obvious physical abuse of living at a truck stop plus the lack of proper care and enrichment. Enough is enough, many well equipped sanctuaries will take Tony at no cost to Mr. Sandlin

Exactly 'Where' would winning this suit leave Tony : In a better place, or 'in a better place?' It doesn't say, in the article. ~ >,^.^,<

Tony would be moved to a sanctuary for Big Cats. These sanctuaries are refuges for abused animals such as Tony. They are NOT put on display, nor taught tricks of any kind. They are put into an enclosure which is similar to the animal's natural habitat and they are carefully, and lovingly worked with. I suggest you go to Big Cat Rescue ... bigcatrescue.org
to see the wonderful work they do with these sad animals.

I find it appalling, that in this time in history, people would still feel it is ok to treat a living animal in such a way!!!

This is inhumane and I hope Tony gets a chance to go live out the rest of his days at a big cat sanctuary or be re introduced into the wild if possible. I can't believe this has been allowed to happen for so long.

This is horrendous. The poor animal deserves a better life. There are countless videos of him crying in distress because of the constant noise from the truck stop. Tony shouldn't be in this cage surrounded by noise and pollution 24/7. He is a living being, not an ornament to be put on display. Tony's supporters have been trying and waiting for many years now to get him out of there maybe now is the time it will happen?

I have been watching this cause to free Tony from Australia. I agree, the ALDF are to be commended for their persistent dedication! In Australia keeping a tiger in such conditions would be considered a serious crime. Please please find a way to relocate him to an accredited big cat sanctuary! Keeping such a beautiful animal at a truck stop just seems to be incredibly cruel. I think a lot of people across the globe are now watching to see what happens and I am so stunned that this is allowed to occur in the USA.

Let me introduce an alternative view. As a business owner and entrepreneur myself, I'm having a hard time understanding how this is profitable for the Tiger Truck Stop and its proprietor. Is it actually more profitable to have international controversy surrounding your business and be seen as someone who keeps an innocent animal in prison without said animal being accused of, much less convicted of, a crime?

I don't have all the facts here but if I was Michael Sandlin, I'd find a way to spin this to portray myself as a true animal lover (which Mr. Sandlin states he is) and position myself as the hero of the story by doing right by Tony and letting him retire to a sanctuary where he belongs. However you want to read this is fine. Ronald Reagan said that you can get a lot of good things done if you don't split hairs over who gets what percentage of the credit (or something like that). Whatever it takes to get Tony freed.

If Sandlin turned this around and became a hero for retiring Tony to a sanctuary, that would be fine with me. I have been involved in this situation for three years now and I couldn't care less who gets credit for saving this tiger. My husband and I have stopped at the truck stop to see Tony and it is heart breaking.

Your quote from Ronald Reagan says much. Splitting hairs over the credit is foolish and does not do anything for the tiger.

Let's just hope this action by the Animal Defense League gets Tony out and to a sanctuary.

This poor poor fella needs to be helped. I am so sorry and cant believe that we have let this go on for 10 years. Surely everyone knows this to be a cruel and inhuman treatment of such a beautiful beast. Shame on the state of louisiana for allowing the permit to hold him and especially for this long. Idiots!

I live in Tennessee and have been following Tony's story. It is heartbreaking and unconscionable that this beautiful endangered animal has been forced to live in such an environment for all these years. Tony deserves to live the rest of his life in dignity and peace, in a proper habitat. Thank you, ALDF, for not giving up the fight!

Please send Tony to Big Cat Rescue in Fl where at least he can have some opportunity to live as a tiger should. It's a true shame he couldn't live his life in the wild as he should. Thank you for your efforts, ALDF!

I hope and pray this will be the push that gets Tony to a peaceful sanctuary where he belongs. This beautiful animal has no place at this truck stop.

Please free Tony to a sanctuary. This is not how an endangered
animal or any animal, for that matter, should have
to live. I was so shocked to hear of this. It's not
the 70's anymore! Get with the program and send
him to a sanctuary! It's disgraceful and you should be ashamed!!

I commend the ALDF for their persistent dedication in advocating for the relocation of Tony to an accredited big cat sanctuary that can provide him with the proper habitat medical care, enrichment, respect and the peaceful life he deserves. With the life span of properly cared for captive tigers 15 to 20 years, supporters of Tony, who has been subjected to all of his 10 years in the detrimental environment of a truck stop, hope he will soon have a proper home.

I am so sorry that this has taken 10 years from Tony. Bless all of you for not giving up after so long.

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