Victory in ALDF’s Tony the Tiger Case!

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Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on April 26th, 2013

Yesterday the Louisiana Court of Appeal issued its long-awaited opinion in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. State of Louisiana, holding that Michael Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to confine Tony the Tiger in a cage at the Tiger Truck Stop.

Although the court held that ALDF lacked standing to be a plaintiff in the case, it nevertheless confirmed that our clients—Louisiana residents and taxpayers—do have standing to challenge illegal actions by the government, in this case the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

In ruling on the merits, the court agreed with ALDF’s argument that Michael Sandlin cannot receive a grandfather permit to continue to keep Tony because Sandlin does not meet the legal requirements for such a permit. As the court put it:

The record establishes that on August 15, 2006, Tony was not owned by Michael Sandlin; rather, he was owned by Tiger Truck Stop. Additionally, on August 15, 2006, the ownership and possession of Tony by Tiger Truck Stop and the possession by Michael Sandlin in Iberville Parish was in violation of a local ordinance, and thus, illegal. Although that local ordinance was amended in 2009 retroactive to August 15, 2006, the amendment to the ordinance did not change the fact that on August 15, 2006, neither Tiger Truck Stop nor Michael Sandlin legally possessed or legally owned Tony. Only an individual who legally possessed an exotic cat (such as a tiger) and who could prove legal ownership of that exotic cat is entitled to a permit for that cat. Accordingly, that part of the judgment of the trial court granting a final/permanent injunction against DWF, enjoining it from issuing any new permits to Michael Sandlin and/or Tiger Truck Stop for the tiger (“Tony” microchip #477E201A4C) now located at Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish is affirmed.

The decision marks a significant step towards Tony’s freedom, as the second-highest court in Louisiana has confirmed that the Department erred when it issued Sandlin a permit. Sandlin’s lawyer has said she intends to seek rehearing of the Court of Appeal’s decision, as well as review by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

Sandlin also has his own lawsuit to invalidate the state’s big cat ban. But rest assured ALDF will fight every step of the way to make sure Tony ends up in a reputable sanctuary. We still have a long road ahead, but we’ve cleared a major hurdle and have earned this moment of celebration.

News Link:http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2438

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AUG 8, 2012 Two latest Videos – ‘Tony’ The Truck Stop Tiger Grosse Tete, LA

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My dear friend & animal warrior, Mary aka cloversweed on You Tube, has kindly shared her most recent videos of Tony. One thing I must point out,  is that Mary points, shoots, uploads…no editing, no fancy frills…just video showing Tony! Mary has no script, no notes, nothing pre-prepared, so listening to her commentary is a must! When she leaves, it’s obviously heartbreaking, as one never knows what stunt Michael Sandlin will pull next. He has said that if he is forced to move Tony, he will send him to Joe Exotic, which is not what’s best for Tony! Tony is at the truck stop without a permit!

We are not saying Tony is abused, it is the environment he lives in that people take exception to! His cage is large but nothing to entertain Tony, no shrubbery to hide in, no tree logs to scratch or climb on, no swimming pool..although Mr Sandlin has quoted ‘he has a pool to swim in’ on several sites & news articles…well you can clearly see that so called pool…it’s a horse trough, Mary has filmed it empty on several occasions! Makes no difference, if it was full of water, never seen any evidence of Tony in it, probably because he wouldn’t fit! Tony has no enrichment, just the constant noise & smell of the truck stop! It is just no place for a lonely tiger, or any other animal, breathing in diesel fumes for 12 years…who knows if it has done any damage to his internal organs!

“The 2 most recent videos of Tony The Truck Stop Tiger, taken by cloversweed on You Tube”

Published on 8 Aug 2012 by 

FREE TONY, THE TRUCK STOP TIGER – Part One
(AUGUST 8, 2012 WED) 
GROSSE TETE, LA
UPDATE # 30 (Part One of Two)

“Part of the video dialogue – Classic Mary!!”

2. 02:40 – Paul, Michael Sandlin’s nephew, approaches and asks me if I am “one of those animal activists”. Well, no, I replied, I am “one of those tourists”. And then Paul begins to tell me, again, (Paul has talked with me before & I have heard this “story” before from Paul about this “woman on the Internet that posts all these LIES about Tony.” I have no idea who that woman is. Surely, it is not me, for my videos tell the story, even without my words, really they do.I am witness & so are you to what transpires during these visits.) I reminded Paul that he & I have talked before & that I visit Tony frequently on my trips to Baton Rouge & I also asked Paul if he would like to stay by my side the entire time.He said that was OK.Paul then begins to spray down Tony’s cage,opens the gate so Tony may exit the cage.THIS IS WHEN WE FIRST SEE TONY @ 06:25.Paul closes the gate, so that Paul may enter the cage & places Tony’s breakfast out.And then Tony re-enters to eat.(This is about 9.45-10.00AM or perhaps even later.But, it was not early morning.This was much later than usual for I did not leave from this morning visit until close to noon.)

Published on 8 Aug 2012 by 

FREE TONY, THE TRUCK STOP TIGER – Part Two
(AUGUST 8, 2012 WED) 
GROSSE TETE, LA
LIVE FOOTAGE, RAW & UNEDITED
UPDATE # 31 (Part Two of Two)

Mary’s You Tube account has all her videos of Tony, along with with all the information about Tony & the courts etc. http://www.youtube.com/user/cloversweed

Read the latest from ALDF:-http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2023

This is a great site:-Making Sense of the Current Status of the Tony the Tiger Cases:-http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2053#

LINKS FOR MORE INFO:
– http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/ ALWAYS CURRENT
– http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/links-for-tony/
– http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1675 more info
– http://aldf.org/

Petition – LDWF: Ensure Tony The Tiger Is Released To A Reputable Sanctuary:-http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary

Judge won’t order truck stop tiger’s removal

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A state judge has refused to order the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to remove an 11-year-old tiger from a truck stop in Grosse Tete.

Judge Michael Caldwell ruled Thursday that he cannot order the executive branch to do that. He also ruled that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and two plaintiffs don’t have legal standing to bring up the question.Tony

“There is no legal means for a private citizen to go to a court and ask the judge to order another branch of government to perform what is essentially a discretionary function,” said Jennifer Treadway Morris, attorney for Michael Sandlin and his Tiger Truck Stop Inc.

Lisa Franzetta, spokeswoman for the nonprofit group, said it was considering whether to appeal Thursday’s decision.

In November, Caldwell ordered the department to revoke the permit for a tiger at Tiger Truck Stop.

ALDF sued last month, saying the department refused to confiscate the animal from the truck stop and its owner, Michael Sandlin, because it has appealed Caldwell’s November decision and Sandlin had challenged the constitutionality ofLouisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats.

“In no way does today’s ruling affect the judge’s previous ruling that Michael Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop can’t be granted a permit to keep Tony,” Franzetta said. “We were trying to speed up the process of getting Tony away from the truck stop.”

Treadway Morris and attorneys for the Animal Legal Defense Fund will be back in State District Court on Monday. Judge Janice Clark has scheduled a hearing on the group’s request to intervene in Sandlin’s lawsuit.

Battle to Free Truck Stop Tiger Continues

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Free Tony The Tiger

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Lousiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to have Tony, the 11-year-old tiger who’s been living on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., moved to a sanctuary.

The ALDF sued the LDWF and its secretary Robert Barham on Tony’s behalf last year arguing that granting Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, a permit in the first place violated state law. Judge R. Michael Caldwell granted the ALDF’s request for a permanent injunction against the LDWF, preventing them from renewing the annual permit that allows Sandlin to keep Tony.

Unfortunately that decision was overturned because Sandlin was not part of the lawsuit. In November Judge Caldwell ordered the LDWF to revoke Michael Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony and bar him from obtaining another permit in the future. Tony’s…

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 ALDF Back in Court Demanding State Take Action on Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, Now Exhibited Without a Permit

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Baton Rouge, La. – This morning, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a lawsuit to force the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to do its job of enforcing Louisiana’s big cat ban in the case of Tony, Grosse Tete’s “truck stop tiger.” Michael Sandlin’s permit to keep Tony, an eleven-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger, expired in December, yet he has continued to keep Tony confined at the Tiger Truck Stop, in open violation of state law.

ALDF’s lawsuit would compel the Department to take steps to enforce the law and report Sandlin’s illegal possession of Tony to local law enforcement for prosecution. In addition, ALDF, along with two Louisiana residents, today filed a petition to intervene in Sandlin’s current lawsuit against the state; the interveners seek to defend the state’s law banning private ownership of big cats. The law offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz, P.C. are providing pro bonoassistance with the lawsuit and the petition to intervene.

Tony the Tiger

In November 2011, the East Baton Rouge District Court granted ALDF’s request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, ordering the Department to revoke the permit that allowed Sandlin to display Tony as a roadside exhibit at the truck stop where he has languished for over a decade. Despite the fact that Sandlin’s permit expired in December and cannot be renewed, he continues to display Tony, in violation of the big cat law, which the Department is responsible for enforcing.

“The state of Louisiana has explicit regulations designed to protect tigers like Tony, and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is required to enforce them” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The court has already granted Tony and ALDF a victory by ruling that Michael Sandlin’s permit to display Tony was illegal. Sandlin, now without a permit, cannot be allowed to continue to exploit this tiger with impunity.”

Meanwhile, Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop are suing the state, arguing that Louisiana’s ban on private ownership of big cats like Tony is unconstitutional—flying in the face of the current national sentiment that dangerous exotic animals should be more strictly regulated. Ohio is currently considering a bill that would ban new ownership of captive wild animals, following the massacre of 48 animals including lions, tigers, and bears, who were released by their Zanesville owner last October. Additionally, in February, a bipartisan bill—the “Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act”—was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the breeding and private possession of captive big cats. ALDF’s petition in intervention supports Louisiana’s power to safeguard public safety and animal welfare through such legislative measures.

Animal Legal Defense Fund : ALDF Back in Court Demanding State Take Action on Tony the Truck Stop Tiger, Now Exhibited Without a Permit

http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com

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Tony’s change.org petition reached 12,000 signatures today as people worldwide continue to show their concern for him and support his release to a reputable sanctuary.

Please continue to share http://www.change.org/petitions/ldwf-ensure-tony-the-tiger-is-released-to-a-reputable-sanctuary and visithttp://tinyurl.com/helptonytiger for more ways you can advocate on behalf of Tony.

Thanks again to everyone for your support and dedication to Tony.

Tony the Truck Stop Tiger still in legal limbo (Petition) – National animal advocacy | Examiner.com

Comments Off on Tony the Truck Stop Tiger still in legal limbo (Petition) – National animal advocacy | Examiner.com

Baton Rouge, LA:  On January 23rd, a judge denied a motion by the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, LA, Michael Sandlin, asking that Tony remain where he is while the appeals process ran its course.  Sadly however, this did not result in Tony’s release to sanctuary, as Sandlin has filed a separate lawsuit, alleging the Federal permit that had been issued superseded the one by the state, making Tony legally allowed to stay where he is.  (Source.)

The original decision by the Judge Caldwell in connection with the lawsuit filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ADLF) had been that the permits issued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to Sandlin to keep Tony at the truck stop were not legally issued, and Tony should be immediately released to sanctuary.

via Tony the Truck Stop Tiger still in legal limbo (Petition) – National animal advocacy | Examiner.com.

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