Next Steps in ALDF’s Fight to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on June 3, 2011

As our supporters know, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s recent victory in our lawsuit to free Tony the truck stop tiger was extremely significant, because it finally puts a light at the end of the tunnel that is Tony’s imprisonment. Tony has lived at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana for the past decade, and as a result of ALDF’s case, the annual permit that allows him to be kept there will not be renewed when it expires in December 2011. However, it was a qualified victory–because we were unable to get Tony released immediately.

But we’re not giving up on that goal. That’s why ALDF recently filed a motion for a mandatory injunction that would compel the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the current permit and seize Tony–meaning that Tony would not have to wait until December to experience his new life beyond the Tiger Truck Stop. Although this specific request was part of ALDF’s original complaint, the court did not rule on it at the hearing last month.

A new hearing on the motion for a mandatory injunction has been set for June 14. Stay tuned to the ALDF website, Facebook page, and Twitter for updates as soon as they become available.

41 thoughts on “Next Steps in ALDF’s Fight to Free Tony the Truck Stop Tiger

  1. urbancritter says:

    This is fantastic news! Thank you for continuing to fight for Tony, I hope you win the injunction!

  2. Heather says:

    Praying he is release immediately! Thanks for all you are doing!!! :)

  3. eliza says:

    Wow this is such great,great news I along with many thank you and support you more than I can say.

  4. Marsha Montgomery says:

    You GO! I have never patronized this gas station specifically because of the Tiger and his intolerable living conditions.

  5. Mariam says:

    I have complete confidence that you will win and get Tony out of this hell! I am thrilled and anxious to see it happen and it will! Thank you ALDF for your hard work and for everything you do for animals!!!! <3

  6. Caroline Clune says:

    Thanks for all the hard work you have done to free Tony, hope you get him released soon.

  7. Kathleen O'Keefe says:

    Thank you!!!!

  8. MA Moore says:


  9. Deborah Mitchell says:

    Thank you so much ALDF for continuing to fight for Tony’s freedom from solitary confinement at Tiger Truck Stop. I will eagerly await the Court’s ruling on June 14th.

  10. Dawn Flann says:

    WAY TO GO ALDF!!! AGAIN THANK YOU FROM EVERY PERSON ACROSS THIS PLANET THAT KNOWS AND FIGHTS FOR TONY! ANOTHER GREAT THING WAS THAT MICHAEL SANDLIN’S PETITION TO BECOME A PART OF THE LAWSUIT REGARDING TONY ~WAS DENIED! Finally Justice is coming to Tony. If the 14th does not work out that he leaves then, then we keep on fighting for that Beautiful boy that is so Loved World Wide. Tony~we know you are sick, You just keep on hanging on dear boy..”YOUR DAY IS COMING, JUST HOLD ON A LITTLE LONGER” Love you big guy xoxo

  11. birgit derpoorter says:

    I’m SO thankful for everything you guys and girls did for Tony! Let’s keep fighting the fight until Tony can enjoy a real “tigerlife”. x

  12. Annette says:

    Thank you so much for what you are doing for Tony! You have got a big heart and I know that in the outcome Tony will be away from that awful place and there is you to thank! God Bless you and all you are doing!

  13. Christine says:

    I am so happy Tony has people like you fighting for him! He deserves to LIVE, not exist!

  14. Sue says:

    This is really wonderful news! Thank you so much for all your work to help Tony, I really appreciate it!

  15. Kathryn says:

    I was having a really bad day today…..until I read this. I have been virtually fighting for Tony for almost 2 years now and finally seeing results. I am going to bawl my eyes out when I see him in his new home. He has been in my prayers and in my thoughts daily.

    Whatever sanctuary he ends up in (hopefully BCR) I will make the trip to see him. He has totally captured my heart, and I know he has captured the hearts of many others.

    Thank you for not giving up on him. You are wonderful. :)

  16. Martha Hoffman Skinner says:

    A simple thank you seems so inadequate for all the work and effort you have put into getting Tony free. Your efforts are deeply appreciated by so many many people. Keep up all the good work – you are a strong voice and hope for these abused, mistreated animals. Thank you and thank you over and over again.

  17. leeday says:

    hi it,s leeday i talked to the judge on tony,s case two judges in fact they said that michal samdel want,s to put tony down if he can,t keep him i wantes the judge to give tony a safe heaven he said it is still michale samdel tiger and he can do want he want with him i even talked to the wildlife and said he he going by all the requrment,s keeping the cage clean feeding him i still have one omre trick up my sleeve to fake him out and get him to the best sanuarty in the united states the wild animal sanuarty in colorado i just came back fron ther it,s unbeliveablepat craig will even pay for his tranfore to colorado they just going in 25 loin,s tigers and more from cambodeea they are the first circus to be stopped i was the first person to see them only the press and animal plant has seen them i posted photo,s so u can see them on tweeter doogieday and see how great it would be for tony if it is not to late?pleas phone me for more information and to see what i amgoing to do next phone (973)448-3969 i am not letting this baster kill tony becuse of his own pride singing along leeday

  18. Amy Milligan says:

    Still roaring loud and strong for Tony! Thank God for the ALDF!!! FREE TONY!!!

  19. Carolyn Simms says:

    Thank you so very, very much for doing this for Tony, i’m so happy to hear this!! You are doing great work for Tony, and all animals.
    All the very best. carolyn

  20. Tina says:

    To MA Moore, I believe that Big Cat Falls is willing to take him and has been for several years now if Mr. Sandlin would give him up.

  21. Terri Halle says:

    Until that precious boy is outta that place, I will not feel good about any of this, because I believe Mr. Sandlin would do anything – and I mean ANYTHING, to keep Tony from ever being taken away from ‘him.’

    I will keep Tony in my thoughts and prayers, and continue to visualize him in a natural habitat, where he will discover flowing water and peace. He will hopefully know darkness of night for the first time in his life SOON.

    To all those who continue to do right – for the animals: Thank You.


    The tax paying citizens of the State of Louisiana should be outraged that their hard earned money is paying the salaries of these incompetent fools at LDWF. We obtained the public records on file for Tony with LDWF and those records did NOT include the “health certificate” as REQUIRED BY LAW. (see below) Nor did it contain the $500,000 liability insurance required by Iberville Parish ordinance, which is LDWF’s responsibility to make sure the owner is compliant with ALL, Federal, State and local laws. Maria Davidson, who gets paid a nice chunk of change by the citizens of Louisiana to VERIFY and DOCUMENT that the owner is compliant, failed to do so in several area’s of the permit process. This not only has extended Tony’s suffering by an additional 2 years but has also threatened the Public safety of citizens of your state. The LAW, in regard to the health certificate is as follows: VII.A HEALTH CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY A LICENSED VETERINARIAN WITHIN ONE YEAR PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE APPLICATION STATING THAT THE ANIMAL IS FREE OF ALL SYMPTOMS OF CONTAGIOUS AND/OR INFECTIOUS DISEASES AT THE TIME OF THE EXAMINATION AND THAT ALL APPROPRIATE TESTS AND PREVENTATIVE MEASURES HAVE BEEN PERFORMED AS DEEMED NECESSARY BY THE VETERINARIAN.
    LDWF Please advise how the 2 veterinary exams (in your files) which clearly define only a “VISUAL” exam demonstrate that the animal is free of ALL symptoms of contagious and/or infectious diseases? There is ZERO documentation or notations that Labs/ Blood work have been performed to come to this conclusion. The ONLY way to determine the above is by having a thorough exam and Mr. Sandlin has admitted to the Director of the Humane Society that Tony has never had such an exam in his entire life of 10 years. It’s amazing that LDWF didn’t feel it was important enough to protect the public from any possible exposure of infectious or contagious diseases a tiger could carry, and also LDWF chose to not have the Tigers best interest at heart by making sure regular “thorough” vet exams were performed AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
    The owner is required to carry $500,000 liability insurance, but the cheapskate only bought a $100,000 policy. Maria Davidson, who is responsible to make sure the owner is in compliance, apparently does not have the basic math skills to know that $100,000 equals to LESS THAN $500,000 because she went ahead and approved the permit. We (the Campaign for Tony) personally presented to LDWF and their commission all of the discrepancies found in the permit process. LDWF simply chose to not ENFORCE the laws of your state and chose to put the public safety at risk should the tiger escape.
    The law requires the owner to live on the property. LDWF has allowed the owner a waiver, in lieu of upwards of 15 listed designee’s (employees at the truck stop) who are by law, suppose to be capable of handling all the same legal responsibilities as the owner. i.e.; handle a gun in case of escape. Admittedly the owner states many of his employee’s have prison/felony records and may NOT be able to legally handle the gun, BUT guess what, LDWF is allowing them to stand in place of the owners full legal responsibilities that are required by law. Feeling any safer now residents of Louisiana? It’s very clear that these officials at LDWF reek of corruption and incompetence. It’s not as if they reviewed the proof presented to them and then made this decision. The proof was submitted to them and they have refused to even look at it. They have denied the public a right to submit this documentation to their Commission. The Commission says its LDWF’s responsibility and LDWF says it the Commissions responsibility. You can’t have it both ways fella’s! The way that they have handled the request for the Campaign to submit this proof in itself is breaking many federal laws. Sunshine laws and more. Bobby Jindal needs to step up to the plate and put an end to this sad state of affairs. Everyone is thinking he should run for President in 2012. I’m a hard core Conservative Republican and it will be a cold day in hell before I voted for him. He can’t keep his own state in order and enforce their laws, how would he manage an entire country??
    To summarize, the owner was NOT legal LAST year. He is NOT legal THIS year. As a resident of Louisiana, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Why does this one business man, get an exception to the rules repeatedly by LDWF? By the City Council? He is in violation of both Federal and State laws, but yet he is not required as all other citizens to adhere to the law as it is written. Go look up the history of violations yourself if you don’t believe me, it’s a matter of public record. So you got to ask yourself…..why does the LDWF allow this. This man is not even a Louisiana native. He only came to Louisiana because the Great state of Texas wouldn’t allow him to continue to abuse and exhibit tigers in their state. They have given more consideration and respect to an outsider than they gave to one of your own, Mary Haik. Mary Haik is a native to Louisiana and is a law abiding, outstanding citizen, unlike Sandlin. Mary Haik spoke to the Commission on Tony’s behalf on the December 2nd meeting. She was NOT given so much as a fraction of the respect and consideration for her inquiry as the owner who is ILLEGAL. Has been repeatedly given. She was pretty much brushed aside and told “You are barking up the wrong tree”. To quote Mary’s words at that meeting and a valid inquiry this was never addressed or answered. “If laws are written to protect these endangered species, and then the laws are not enforced as written, then why write them in the first place?” Haik asked the commissioners. And today….sadly LDWF has failed yet again to do their jobs and ENFORCE the laws. More tragic still, Tony, a “protected” endangered species chokes on diesel fumes 24/7. When will enough be enough for you people? When Tony is found dead in his cage, never having known a day of freedom? Is that when you will come to your senses and start doing the RIGHT thing?
    Before Tony, I had so much faith in People and organizations such as Depts. of Wildlife and Fisheries and Humane Societies, because I truly believed the Purpose for these Organizations were for the Voiceless Ones on this Planet. I truly believed that when Voiceless Creatures, needed a Voice You Members of these Organizations would jump in and help. I was always the type of Person that tried to see the Good in Everyone. I do not consider myself the type of Activist that goes through life shooting my mouth off just for the sake of being heard, or making a Point just for the sake of. I am “Active” in something I believe in, and I “Believe that Animals should not be Mistreated”. Plain and Simple. I have been following Tony the Tiger for about 10 months now. The more I read about Tony the worse I felt. The more I read about Michael Sandlin and his history of mistreating Tigers in the past and how he today still treats Tony, the Stronger my dislike for him grew. The more I heard and read about The Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, the less I believed in such Organizations (Particularly this one in Louisiana). It is one thing for you people to try and prove a point to the rest of your Country and to All Activists in General, by Renewing the Permit to keep Tony….but it is a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME, that by doing this you have forgotten the most Important Reason for Any of this, and that is A TIGER. Throughout this Whole fight, especially this past year when Fighters for Tony have grown to massive numbers, you the LOUISIANA DEPT. OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES have Misunderstood, you have Missed the Whole Point, and you have Failed to see one Thing. One Important Thing, and that is Tony. You did not take the time out of all of this and Really Look at Tony. I could go on and on and list the Violations Sandlin has made, I could go on and on and list the cruelty that Tony has been through. Why should I? You already know, what you did wrong, and you already know what you let Sandlin get away with.
    Have you tho…..Really looked At Tony? I mean Really? In the past 10 months since I have been looking at him, he is failing right before my eyes. His weight is dropping at a rate that is Obvious with each new picture. This past week, actually days before you Renewed this Permit to Michael Sandlin, new pictures were taken of Tony and I could not look at them because he is now the Worst I have seen him yet. These pictures have been viewed by THREE different People who have Experience and Knowledge with Big Exotic Cats, and they all have looked at how and where Tony is now becoming so thin, and they have all come to the SAME CONCLUSIONS~~That Tony is likely to be suffering from Kidney Failure…one person even going as far as saying that he possibly has numerous Tumors…..
    LOUISIANA DEPT. OF WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES?! Enough is enough. You have Proven your point, you have showed the World that you can do what you wish…but now this is turning into Something Very serious other then a POWERSTRUGGLE OF WHO IS MORE POWERFUL. This is a Tiger’s Life we all are speaking about here. YOU KNEW when you Renewed this Permit to Sandlin that TONY HAD NOT RECEIVED A PHYSICAL EXAMINATION. You know that he has never had one….
    This has gone past the point of NEGLECT. This is at the Point now where you are letting AN ENDANGERED TIGER DIE ON DISPLAY IN YOUR STATE FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO WATCH….This goes beyond INHUMANE. If any of you members of your Organizations of Humane Societies or wildlife and Fisheries read this…then you better think long and hard of what you are doing here. This is A TERRIBLE ACT OF CRUELTY AND INHUMANE BEHAVIOR if this Tiger is as Sick as was Stated, and if he is Suffering…..and if you are letting him…….

  23. Thanks to everyone at ALDF for your persistence and dedication to Tony’s case. Tony’s supporters truly appreciate everything you are doing to give him the home and life he deserves. We will continue to support you,your efforts and Tony, and eagerly look forward to his release to an accredited humane sanctuary that can provide for all of his needs.

  24. Pamela Harp Gentry says:

    Many thanks to ALDF for this fight to free Tony. He has languished in this horrid environment far too long. Keep up the fight. We are with you ALL THE WAY!! FREE TONY!

  25. Carolyn M. Yurkins says:

    An important variable in this equation is that Mr. Sandlin should NOT have any input as to where Tony is placed. I don’t trust this despicable excuse for a human being as far as I can throw him!! It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he makes a deal with someone that would act in his best interest & not Tony’s!

  26. kimmarie says:

    Thanks to everyone at ALDF for your persistence and dedication to Tony’s case. Tony’s supporters truly appreciate everything you are doing to give him the home and life he deserves.I pray that you able to win his freedom on 6-14-2011.
    God Bless you for all you have done and will do

  27. Helen Cooley says:

    Big Cat Rescue is the place he should call home. I am so happy he is about to be set “free” so to speak!. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing you all are truly amazing angels!

  28. Marcel Sarfati says:

    Thank God Tony tiger will out of the gas tank and live the way he was meant to live. Thank you ALDF for believing in Tiger and a big thank you from me and all of us who think that animals also have a soul.

  29. Natasha says:

    Thank you so much for working to get him free.

  30. 3dogslater says:

    I just hope for Tony’s sake that one the permit expires the owner doesn’t shoot him or hide him from everyone as show you all kind of move…We need a Tiger intervention.

  31. valda says:

    Many have fought the good fight to free Tony and it is great that his freedom is in sight ,thanks due to the Animal Leagal Defense Fund, his long imprisonment of 10 years in a cement box is nearly over,I wonder how many more Tony’s are out there hoping that they too will escape from their cement tomb’s?

  32. Stacy says:

    I just came across this story via Facebook. This is a terrible situation..but so thankful that someone is doing something to help this beautiful creature. Praying for an immediate release to a great home. God bless you!

  33. Alison says:

    Go ALDF! You have made great inroads into a very entrenched system. We will prevail!

  34. Richard Willis says:

    The moment I heard he would be released and that his release would be in DECEMBER…I was angry, this Tiger needs to be free immediately. I can’t believe this is a ongoing issue. Tony the Tiger is not healthy and needs help and freedom. Please don’t stop fighting for his freedom, thanks you!

  35. L. Nelson says:

    I will believe that Tony will be freed from his truck stop cage when it happens. Couldn’t his current owner just sell him before the permit runs out?
    I appreciate all the work the ALDF has put into helping Tony!

  36. Maria S. Cantwell says:

    Yes! Please keep fighting for Tony. Set him free asap.

  37. Shann says:

    This is incredible news! Bring on Tony’s freedom! What a horrible decade he has had – no one deserves that kind of life!
    Sending love and support all the way from Australia!

  38. macyjacobnathan says:

    Dear Animal Legal Defense Fund.

    I pace back and forth because I have nothing else to do. Some nice people donated toys, the ball is outside my cage so I can’t play with it. I’d like to smell fresh air, trees, flowers anything but gas fumes. I’d like to listen to the sounds of nature instead of trucks and people taunting me. I’d love a pool to swim in instead of a water trough.I would like a vet to give me a good physical because I haven’t felt well lately. Thank you for trying to help me get out of here. Tell Mr. Sandlin it’s time for me to retire from the truck stop business. Thank you. Love Tony

  39. Eliza Howard says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and are doing for Tony. We have reached out to so many but you have always been there for him. All the blessings in the world friday. Many thousands of people stand with you and thank you.

  40. Erin M. Hughes says:

    I did not know of this situation until tonight when passing through Louisiana I inadvertently stopped at this place for gas and was HORRIFIED at what I saw!! It was excruciating to see this beautiful tiger pacing back and forth alone in a stereotypical daze in a barren concrete cage in a parking lot amongst loud truck traffic, yards away from a speeding loud interstate, diesel fumes pervading the air and to know that this goes on 24 hours a day! It was unreal. I was born and raised in Louisiana and am now embarrassed and ashamed that my home state has allowed this to even happen much less go on for so long. THANK YOU ALDF!!! Whatever I can do to help free “Tony” immediately from this horrible selfish situation just ask and I will be there.

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