IT HAS BEEN A LONG HARD ROAD THAT WE ALL HAVE CHOSEN, WHEN WE JOINED THIS CAMPAIGN FOR TONY'S FREEDOM. WHETHER IT IS TWO YEARS, THREE YEARS, OR ONE YEAR, OR FOR SOME OF US PERHAPS JUST MONTHS. REGARDLESS OF THE LENGTH OF TIME YOU HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR TONY, IT IS "IMPERATIVE" WHEN YOU FIGHT FOR SOMETHING LIKE AN ENDANGERED TIGER, THAT YOU HAVE THE PROPER FACTS, THE PROPER HISTORY TO FIGHT THIS FIGHT. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FOR YOU ALL TO HAVE, SO THAT WHEN WRITING YOUR LETTERS OR YOUR EMAILS ~YOU ARE EDUCATED ON TONY AND THE HISTORY OF TIGER TRUCK STOP. IT CANNOT BE STRESSED ENOUGH THAT YOU ALL TAKE THE TIME AND READ ALL OF THIS. ~IF YOU ARE GOING TO FIGHT FOR TONY AND HAVE AN EFFECT, THEN YOU NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF SO THAT YOU CAN BACK THE WORDS YOU USE WHEN YOU FIGHT FOR HIM~FIRST WE START WITH A BRIEF SUMMARY AND HISTORY OF MICHAEL SANDLIN AND TIGER TRUCK STOP:
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME AND GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING SO THAT YOU KNOW HOW IT STARTED, AND WHY TONY IS STILL THERE TODAY.
Facts on the history of Tiger Truck Stop that seem to have been overlooked. The buying, breeding, selling and exploiting of tigers for what they call “conservation” has been going on for 20 plus years with Mr. Sandlin and his father before him.
A 1993 Iberville Parish County Ordinance prohibited the display of wild exotic animals as pets but was never enforced. The ordinance was amended on March 17, 2009 to allow Tony’s owner Michael Sandlin to keep Tony.
Mr. Sandlin then had to secure a license from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. LDWF’s On December 14, 2009 the LDW&F granted a permit to allow Tony’s owner to keep him at the truck stop.
On November 6, 1989 Tiger Truck Stop raffled off an 11-month-old 350-pound Bengal tiger named Gloria who was living in a 16”x7”x7” cage attached to a flatbed trailer. The entry forms informed potential winners that they could “donate [her] to a zoo, sell [her], or give [her] to a friend” in the event that the winner did not want to keep the cub.
On December 14, 1993 according to The New Orleans Times- Picayune, Tiger Truck Stop was evacuated for five hours after a tanker truck ruptured, spilling 400 gallons of highly flammable aviation fuel at the truck stop.
On September 12, 1997 Tiger Truck Stop sold two tiger cubs for $2,500 to a couple passing through on a camping trip. One of the cubs suffered from fluid collection around the joints in her front legs, a condition linked to living on concrete.
November 5, 1997 The USDA cited Tiger Truck Stop for failure to provide shelter from inclement weather.
August 23, 1999 The USDA cited Tiger Truck Stop for unsanitary feeding practices, algae growth in the water receptacles, and poor housekeeping.
November 28, 2000 Tiger Truck Stop was cited again by the USDA for failure to correct previously identified violations of not providing veterinary care and mishandling tigers.
Baby tigers were being housed in a cage behind the counter in the store and used for pictures. Two 60lb white tigers were being housed in a 5”x 5” chain-link dog run, and Tony was tied up behind the counter in the store by a dog collar and leash.
In October 2001 two tiger cubs were taken in for declawing. The first evening at the veterinarian’s office, the male cub died.
Another tiger named Selena died mysteriously at the age of four and is now stuffed and mounted over the restaurant salad bar.
In April of 2003 after repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act three of the four remaining tigers were removed from the facility, but Tony was left behind.
These are ONLY a handful of the many violations and citations over the years, yet Tony still remains at the truck stop.
Michael Sandlin has threatened a lawsuit if anyone tries to take Tony, but it is the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ job both legally and ethically to do what is best for Tony.
His cage sits within feet of the gas pumps. He breathes in toxic fumes from cars and trucks all day long, not to mention the aggravation he must feel with sightseers continually crowding around his cage and flashing lights in his face.
Tony also must endure the deafening noise from the big trucks and cars passing through 24 hours a day, flood lights on him at night, living on concrete which is damaging to his joints and pads of his paws.
He is living alone with no enrichments or animals of his kind. People taunt him, yell at him, and even throw things at him.
Michael Sandlin calls Tony his pet and part of the family, but he stated in a recent article that “thanks to all of the animal rights activists, business is better than ever”. He also stated that “he plans to exhibit “the tiger” until he is too old or too sick to be exhibited anymore”.
*THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE, GOES INTO GREATER DETAIL OF TONY AND MICHAEL SANDLIN'S HISTORY AND HOPEFULLY WILL ANSWER SOME OF THE QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE , SUCH AS "WHY IS TONY STILL THERE TODAY" OR "HOW CAN MICHAEL SANDLIN BE ALLOWED TO KEEP TONY". WE REALIZE THIS IS ALOT OF INFORMATION FOR YOU TO READ, BUT AGAIN IT IS STRESSED, THAT IF YOU ARE TO FIGHT FOR TONY, THEN THE BEST WEAPON IS THAT YOU EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH THE FACTS AND THE HISTORY.
*REMEMBER~KNOWLEDGE IS POWER~
PLEASE READ CAREFULLY THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AND LINKS PROVIDED TO YOU BELOW:
THIS IS TONY'S STORY
Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, has bought, sold, bred, and exhibited tigers for over 20 years. In 2003, because of violations and fines, Mr. Sandlin and the USDA made an agreement where 3 of the 4 tigers he owned, Toby, Khan and Rainbow, were sent to Tiger Haven in Kingston TN. The USDA reduced the fines and allowed Mr. Sandlin to keep one tiger, Tony.
The Louisiana legislature passed Act 715 in 2006 which prohibited the ownership and sale of large exotic cats, including tigers in Louisiana.
Those individuals who legally owned big cats as of August 15, 2006 were grandfathered in under this act. These owners would need to apply for an annual permit from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and adhere to additional restrictions and stipulations.
On July 20, 2007 The Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries wrote to Michael Sandlin informing him of the new state rules. He was given an application to fill out and submit and was told Tony would be grandfathered in if the permit was issued.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wrote Michael Sandlin on October 22, 2008 advising him that his application had been placed on hold based upon their discovery of the 1993 Iberville ban. Part of their new rules (LAC 76: V. 115. H.13) require that the facility be in compliance with all local ordinances. It was discovered that the 1993 Iberville Parish ordinance prohibited ownership and display of exotic animals such as tigers, but the ordinance was never enforced.
Original and Amended Ordinance: http://freetonythetiger.wordpress.com/revised-ordinance/
Because he was not in compliance with the 1993 Iberville ordinance ban on displaying wild animals, Mr. Sandlin was issued a citation form the LDW&F on November 17, 2008 and given 30 days to find a home for Tony outside the state of Louisiana. Mr. Sandlin was given until December 16, 2008 to relocate Tony.
Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit educational accredited big cat sanctuary in Tampa Florida wrote to Mr. Sandlin on November 22, 2008 and offered to take Tony and provide a permanent home for him at no cost to Mr. Sandlin. Big Cat Rescue’s offer went unanswered and they contacted Maria Davidson, Large Carnivore Project Manager at the LDW&F and offered their assistance to seize Tony.
Mr. Sandlin filed a petition for a temporary restraining order on December 15, 2008 against the LDW&F to stop them from seizing Tony. Judge J. Robin Free signed the order on December 16, 2008.
December 16, 2008 Iberville Parish Council Meeting:
The issue of what to do with the tiger was not on the council’s agenda, but members agreed to let one representative from each delegation have three minutes to state their cases.
December 22, 2008
A court hearing that had been set for Dec. 29 was postponed to allow the council time to consider amending a 1993 parish ordinance that bars private individuals from exhibiting dangerous, wild animals such as tigers
February 17, 2009 Iberville Parish Council Meeting
The council voted 11-1 to allow Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin, to keep Tony — a decision that directly opposes parish ordinances restricting private ownership of exotic and dangerous animals.
February 28, 2009
Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. vetoed a parish ordinance the council approved on February 17, 2009 to allow a Mr. Sandlin to continue keeping a tiger at his place of business. In his veto message, Ourso wrote that the ordinance the council passed by a vote of 11-1 was deficient because it failed to provide “for permitting conditions to ensure the safety of the general public and the health and welfare of the tiger.”
March 17, 2009 Iberville Parish Council Meeting
The Iberville Parish Council voted Tuesday (March 17) to allow Tony the Tiger to stay at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, but only if an upgrade of his habitat will be made.
Amended Ordinance: http://library3.municode.com:80/default-test/template.htm?view=browse&doc_action=setdoc&doc_keytype=tocid&doc_key=116a588c404eed65e629934fc73b489e&infobase=11017
Mr. Sandlin then had to obtain a permit from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. A statement from the LDW&F large carnivore manager Maria Davidson read: "It is the Department's position that private possession of tigers poses a significant hazard to public safety and is detrimental to the health of the animal. Prolonged confinement is by its nature stressful to tigers and proper long-term care by experienced persons is essential to the health of the animal.”
Contrary to this statement, on December 14, 2009, the LDW&F granted the permit to Mr. Sandlin which allows him to keep Tony on display 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the truck stop.
On December 14, 2010 The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries renewed their permit to Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin allowing him to keep and display Tony at the truck stop.
July 2010 marked Tony’s tenth year of life as well as ten years at the truck stop. A captive tiger’s lifespan with the proper medical care, diet, habitat and enrichment is 15 to 20 years. Tony lives amid the noise and fumes of car and trucks continually, and his primary dwelling is a concrete and steel enclosure. He has no opportunity to run, swim and receives no enrichment. His health, safety, welfare and quality of life are of great concern to many people all over the world. Accredited big cat sanctuaries stand ready to provide a permanent home for Tony. The Free Tony The Tiger Campaign is committed to relocating Tony to such a sanctuary so he may live the rest of his years in peace and with the care and respect this magnificent cat deserves.
May 6th, 2011~Baton Rouge Court Grants Permanent Injunction, Ordering Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to Stop Issuing Illegal Permit Allowing Tony to Be Kept on Display in Iberville Parish At Tiger Truck Stop.
BATON ROUGE, La. – This morning, a judge in East Baton Rouge District Court granted the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) request for a permanent injunction against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, preventing the Department from renewing the annual permit that allows Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to display Tony, a ten-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger. When the current permit expires in December 2011, Sandlin will no longer be able to keep Tony confined as a roadside exhibit at the truck stop where he has languished for over a decade. The court also assessed costs against the Department in the case.
May 27, 2011~Sandlin has filed a petition to intervene in the case; if it’s granted, he can join the case and ask the judge to reconsider his ruling. It’s impossible to predict whether (a) the judge will let Sandlin join the case, or (b) if he does let Sandlin join, whether that will change the outcome....
June 3, 2011~Mr. Sandlin's petition to become a party to the law suit regarding Tony has been DENIED! Reason: NO STANDING!
ALDF will take LA Wild Life and Fisheries back to court on June 14th, 2011 to request immediate revoke of the permit for the tiger to be kept at Tiger Truck Stop.
Update June 21, 2011: A hearing is now scheduled for July 22. http://www.aldf.org/tony
THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU COULD KEEP IN YOUR RECORDS FOR TONY. EVERYTHING HERE IS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS SO IF YOU NEED TO GO BACK FOR FUTURE REFERENCE, IT CAN BE ACCESSED EASILY. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO GO THROUGH ALL THE HISTORY AND INFORMATION PROVIDED SO THAT HAVE A BETTER KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT AND WHO EXACTLY WE(YOU) ARE UP AGAINST AS THE FIGHT FOR TONY'S FREEDOM CONTINUES.