Victory in ALDF’s Tony the Tiger Case!

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on April 26, 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.


28 thoughts on “Victory in ALDF’s Tony the Tiger Case!

  1. Ian says:

    Congrats!! Tony will be free soon, I just know it!

  2. Jeanne Jain says:

    Thank you ALDF! Free Tony the Tiger!

  3. Mary says:

    Sure hope that this will soon be ended for the poor tiger.

  4. Charline says:

    I can’t believe he hasn’t been freed yet. Our judicial system is a joke. It’s clear that he is not happy and he is not in a humane environment.

  5. gemcat says:

    I cannot see why such a decision would be overturned, sour grapes Sandlin. I hope it costs you a fortune. Soon asap free Tony.

  6. Michele says:

    Such a huge relief.

    Kudos and thanks to you all for never, ever giving up on Tony. It’s bigger than Tony of course, but it’s also just plain Tony. Good job, ALDF.

  7. Dawn F. says:

    God Bless you ALDF for your efforts, Thank you for sticking by Tony <3..No matter what people say….A majestic Tiger like Tony does not belong at a Truck Stop….

  8. maureen says:

    Tiger Truck Stop. How messed up is that? so messed up. I’m ready to give up on the whole human race. thanks so much for organizations such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund. We have got to be the voices for the voiceless

  9. Diane says:

    Where will he go, when freed?

  10. Kathy says:

    Mr. Sandlin and his lawyer need to have their heads examined. Any person (?) who would do this to a beautiful tiger that belongs free and his lawyer, supporting and representing such an evil person deserve to be shipped directly to Hell! Again, what goes around comes around–remember that and I hope none of you can sleep at night! Keep an eye on your back–never know what can come up and bite you!

  11. Kathryn DeLongchamp says:

    Gratitude to ALDF for tirelessly seeking justice for Tony. Pray that Karma comes to bear for Mr. Sandlin very soon. Is there any way to seek immediate removal (by USDA?) of Tony and placement in a sanctuary as he is illegally held and exhibited at the truck stop? Free Tony Now!

  12. Christina Babst says:

    how long will it take until everything is settled? Since Tony is held at this Truck Stop illegally he should be removed right now. If it goes on any longer this poor soul might die there. He has a right to enjoy the rest of his life in a beautiful sanctuary like PAWS.

  13. Lynn Churchill Coleman says:

    One step closer to freedom, can’t take the pressure off now..anyone who hasn’t signed petition please do, so Tony can have the life he deserves sooner rather than later. Enough of his life has been in this small cage.

  14. Melanie says:

    Finally!! GodBless all who never gave up.

  15. Teri says:

    It’s time for tony to live out the rest of his short live enjoying grass and pools of water. It’s time .

  16. Jams says:

    It been a long time coming….

  17. Susan Haughey says:

    I am praying Tony lives long enough to see his freedom days ahead. Being poisoned by the noxious fumes he is exposed to everyday worries me he may not be in good health :”(. Praying to God for you Tony!!!

  18. LSUAlum says:

    I also can’t believe this is still going on. Seeing that tiger forced to live at a gas station was one of the saddest parts of living in Louisiana. Thank you for all the hard work on this! Keep fighting for this tiger’s freedom and dignity, he certainly deserves a reputable sanctuary. I wish LSU would give up keeping a tiger in a cage on campus too, but this tiger’s quality of life was tragic. Shame on the Louisiana agencies and courts for not resolving this situation sooner.

  19. Danielle says:

    FANTASTIC!!!! This case has been long overdue with its decision for Tony!!! Wonderful success!!!

  20. M. (Moo) Prince says:

    This is Great News!!! Poor Tony has been there for so long at a truck stop in a cage. This is so very wrong & cruel. Tong belongs FREE, Please Free Tony ASAP!!! Thanks to all that are standing up & are there for Our Sweet Tony. It’s been a very long time coming. This should Never Ever Happen to any animal.

  21. AmandaM says:

    Thank you ALDF!! For hanging in there for Tony.
    Please! Do NOT GIVE UP. We need to see this through regardless of what legal actions they take.
    I dont see any information on what the next step for Tony is now. If they lost the case then they lost custody and possession. I heard there were at least two big cat sanctuaries that agreed to take Tony.
    Can you please post some additional information on when the tiger may actually be released? It seems to me that even though they want to appeal, since they lost this second go-round they should not retain possession.
    Thanks to ALDF perseverance and to all Tony’s supporters. Bless you!

  22. Dee says:

    Thank you ALDF for your dedication to Tony. We remain supportive and positive, and will continue to advocate for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary.

  23. miss prim says:

    I hope this joke of a business man goes bankrupt trying to fight this- actually, I just hope he gives up now, because one thing is certain: we will not. And we will donate to this cause until this great beast is able to walk freely and smell fresh air, and hear the quiet again. This man and his business should be shamed and boycotted. meditate on a higher court releasing tony to a sanctuary.

  24. cynthia says:

    I live here in Oklahoma City, OK. I am the biggest lover and advicate of animal rights. If there is anything that I can EVER DO TO HELP, please please let me know. Our animals have got to have better chances in life and better treatment. These kill shelters have got to go, which is my number one goal at this time. We have got to continue to be their voice and saviors. No one has the right to harm, neglect and abuse these wonderful creatures. This will be my mission to stop the cruelty.!!!!!

  25. Maria S. Cantwell says:

    HOORAY for Tony! Thank you, ALDF for not giving up on him. Now I cannot wait to hear the news that Tony will be moving to his new home. A sanctuary where he will be free to roam, but will be protected. Hope to hear this news sooner; not later.

  26. Susanna Nieddu says:

    I’M IN SHOCK!!!I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL IS STILL LIVING IN A CONCRETE CAGE WITH METAL BARS..
    WASN’T HE SUPPOSED 2 B FREED A LONG TIME AGO (2011/12)? ARE U TELLING ME THAT TONY HAS TO STAY IN PRISON ALL THROUGHOUT THIS COMING SUMMER AND POSSIBLY THE WINTER TOO??
    WOW!! I’M SO SAD AND ENRAGED FOR HIM.. POOR GUY STILL LIVING BEHIND BARS :(
    HOPE HE WILL HAVE ENOUGH YEARS LEFT IN HIM TO ENJOY HIS FREEDOM – WHENEVER IS GOING TO HAPPEN -
    HOPEFULLY VERY VERY SOON.

  27. mariam says:

    Thank you ALDF for your determination …your fight for Tony’s freedom from the truck stop cage is our fight. Thank you so much

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.


Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Facebook Twitter YouTube Pinterest

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.