Animal Legal Defense Fund Back in Court to Protect Tony the Tiger From Losing Statutory Protection

Posted on November 14, 2014

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF

tony-the-tiger-copyright-FFTT-240pxBATON ROUGE — Arguments will be heard Monday in a lawsuit brought by the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to protect Tony, a tiger living at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop. The lawsuit alleges that Louisiana lawmakers violated the state’s constitutional prohibition on “special laws” when they exempted Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, from existing animal welfare and public safety laws by passing Act 697 in June. ALDF is representing former Louisiana Representative Warren Triche, Jr. (who sponsored the 2006 ban on private ownership of dangerous large exotic cats) and other Louisiana residents and taxpayers. The Tiger Truck Stop has asked the court to dismiss ALDF’s lawsuit against the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin.

Where: 19th Judicial District Court, Division 23, Room 8a, 300 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge, LA.

When: Monday, November 17, 2014. 9:30am CT

The sole purpose of Act 697 is to allow Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot by exempting Sandlin from Louisiana’s 2006 ban, a law Sandlin had broken for years. Act 697 undoes legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively removes protections Tony received under the ban. In a separate lawsuit, the Louisiana courts held that Sandlin’s captivity of Tony violated state law.

“Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution and the intent of the 2006 ban, which was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Louisianans want Tony to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot—and they don’t want their representatives to hand out special privileges to lawbreakers like the Tiger Truck Stop, which profits from animal suffering.”

Copies of the lawsuit and photographs of Tony at the Tiger Truck Stop are available upon request.

88 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Back in Court to Protect Tony the Tiger From Losing Statutory Protection

  1. Meg swany says:

    Free Tony. It is unlawful to make acceptions for one citizen that harm animals. We create laws for the betterment of the people not one person. Undo this and free the suffering of this poor animal that it has caused.

  2. Kim S says:

    It’s high time to nail this bastard and the corrupt idiots who exempted him from the law! Get Tony to safe haven immediately – stop Sandlin from further abusing him and the law!!!! Go ALDF!!

  3. Lori Hessinger Benefiel says:

    This is discusting to leave this beautiful creature in this state,what is wrong with this world ,from elephant,rooms having armed guards to circus continue there barbaric practices,when will people all this goes against God nature ,animal testing ,on on and on pit bull fighting ,millions of animal during in shelters every minute of every day ,JUST STOP LAWMAKERS DO YOU FUCKING JOB ,PEOPLE STAND UP MAKE YOU VOICE ,WE ARE KILLING EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN THIS WORLD

    1. Erika T says:

      Well said Lori

  4. C Hindman says:

    Thank you ALDF and Pat Craig and many others for never ever giving up on Tony. The laws are in place to be followed, not to be bent for special interests and favors. “In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.” — Ruth Harrison

  5. Patricia Fitzgerald says:


  6. Angela Franklin says:

    Free Tony! He deserves a better life!

  7. tanya mcpherson says:

    This is a SHAME to even “STILL” be discussing this. NO ANIMALS Should be kept like this… SET HIM FREE FINALLY! Animals should not be put on display for other people’s entertainment. Shame on them!!! Thankful for the Animal Defense!

  8. Our sincerest thanks for your dedication and persistence in the battle for Tony’s release to a reputable big cat sanctuary. You have the support of people all over the world who have learned about Tony’s plight and that of the serious issues of tigers and big cats in the United States. It is absolutely appalling that an exemption for ONE individual was made to a law that passed unanimously in 2006 banning the private ownership of big cats in Louisiana. Tony’s conditions are truly disturbing, a mostly concrete enclosure, displayed 24/7 in the unhealthy and unnatural environment of a truck stop off a major interstate, and taunted by visitors. How can anyone believe this is an acceptable situation for any animal? Keep fighting the good fight ALDF for this beautiful tiger.

    1. Maureen Allen says:

      Monday, 11/17, 9:30 CST: we will be with ALDF and FTTT in that Louisiana courtroom! Tens of thousands of us wait anxiously for justice to prevail under law! Please point out that the quality of the tiger’s captivity, while abysmal, is not the point; he belongs–as an illegally home-bred, large exotic–in one of the respected sanctuaries eager to help. Bon chance!

  9. Wendi Yoakum says:

    Free Tony! No one should be exempt from what the laws dictate. Tony had been kept in a cage almost all his life let me know what happiness is before he passes… And if a cage isn’t that bad then why don’t you or the owner try living in a cage for years on end!

  10. Karen Schenck says:

    Please free Tony. He is long overdue to have a comfortable humane home in a big cat sanctuary.

  11. Cyndi says:

    Thank you for keeping on this. This is tragic one person gets special treatment while a big cat lives in such deplorable living space. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

  12. Wendy Cunningham says:

    No more talking poor Tony needs to be freed immediately!!

  13. Patricia Goodson says:

    The have to stop being this poor tiger in a cage and let him roam free, money hungry awful people. Let him and all big cats kept in cages be free in a sanctuary! This is just not exceptable!!!!

    1. Tore André says:

      You’re so right …

  14. steven says:

    Please stop giving this horrible man special treatment. He is breaking the law and tony the tiger needs to be proctected, and taken to an actual wildcat sanctuary. So we beg you to help this poor animal so can’t speak for himself and horror he endures daily.

  15. Linda Triche says:

    Surely there is a humane shelter / sanctuary that can make this STOP once and for all‼️ I would hope there are a ton of citations they can dump on this JERK to get that poor cat to safety⁉️

  16. Amber Lee says:

    I am right here along side all these supporters in response to Act 697 and the inhumane treatment of Tony, the tiger. I have signed all the petitions along the way helping increase the awareness. I wish I could do more. Thanks to all those who continue to fight for Tony and, hopefully, Monday the courts will find they need to be in Tony’s corner freeing him from a life of cruelty and profiteering. I pray Monday will end with a win for Tony and his legal team. Godspeed!

  17. Asako says:

    Tony the Tiger need to be freed. It’s not our right to keep wild animal in cages.

  18. Asako says:

    Tony the Tiger need to be freed. It’s not our right to keep wild animal in cages.

  19. Vanda Wall says:

    I don’t know how any government could, in good faith, make exemptions to its own laws that only benefit one person. Particularly when the well-being of a living creature is at stake. When living creatures are involved their welfare should trump anything else. It’s the ethical and moral thing to do. Please put Tony’s welfare ahead of the financial interests of someone who is profiting off of his enslavement.

  20. ALDF, Thank you so much for not giving up on Tony by continuing your efforts to obtain sanctuary for him. I am so looking forward to the day when I will see a photo posted of Tony in his new home! Until then, with your legal action, all of us who demand justice for Tony, must continue to make our voices heard.

  21. Genesis Strickler says:

    Free Tony. He has already endured enough. He deserves a better life than what he’s had. I really hope this goes through and Louisiana allows this amazing creature to live on a better life. We would all be for ever greatful.

  22. John Birkbo says:

    All animals are born to be free. FREE THE TIGER.

  23. Alison Richards says:

    It is a total nonsense to pass a law protecting exotic animals & big cats only to hand out exemptions to favoured individuals. Surely that would set a president & encourage other unfit individuals to try & keep Big cats & other exotic creatures in less than satisfactory environments? They would only have to site the Sandlin exemption & the court would have trouble explaining why their case was any different. Free Tony to a sanctuary ASAP & stop this ever happening again!!

  24. Kristen Carrier says:

    I live in Louisiana and have seen Tony first hand. How can Sandlin keep exploiting this poor animal for a quick buck? He has no soul. Please help Tony!

  25. Michelle Renfro says:

    Please let Tony go. Please let him be in an environment that he deserves. I have prayed for him and please consider what is best for Tony’s welfare and well being. He deserves to be in a sanctuary like Big Cat Rescue. God look over us and guide us all.

  26. Anita M says:

    Please have mercy if nothing else is left. Tony has served many years in jail now without committing any crime. I beg you to let him go.

  27. Jo says:

    Its a disgrace tat any animal should live like this. Look at his living conditions!! It’s appalling that an animal should have to live like this, on concrete. no where to run, jump & swim. For what reason MONEY! GREED! WILDCAT SANCTUARY have offered to take him & let him live the rest of his life in an appropriate environment where he will be treated with respect & love not as a money making venture. FREE TONY THE TIGER NOW

  28. Teresa Calvert says:

    Please allow Tony Tiger to be released to a healthy environment. It’s not healthy for any creature to be locked up in too tiny quarters, breathing exhaust fumes around the clock. I beseech you to send Tony Tiger to Big Cat Rescue or The Wildcat Sanctuary, where Tony can have the company and camaraderie of his peers. At Big Cat Rescue, he can receive the excellent medical care and spacious habitat he so much needs and deserves.
    Also, please, let’s demonstrate that no one is above the law. A person can’t just make laws to suit their own situation.
    Thank you for considering this request.
    Miss Teresa D Calvert

  29. laura schulz says:

    I’ve seen the Tigers at this truck stop over the years, it’s wrong and cruel to keep the tiger locked up like this. Everyone should boycott this awful place until the tiger is free. What did he do to deserve to be in prison?

    1. Tore André says:

      Thumbs Up! There’re certain things that only could happen in America. Pls don’t misunderstand … As a Norwegian, I’d love America.

  30. Shannon Minor says:

    FREE TONY!! All beings deserve freedom! Please get him to a sanctuary now!! It infuriates me to think of the corruption that has allowed the truck stop owner to slime his way through a loophole. End the corruption, uphold the law and free this incredible animal!!!

  31. Maria Simone says:

    This animal must be freed instantly! He has suffered enough, living an every day hell against his wild and natural instinct in order to satisfy the ego of a narcissist who keeps him in prison. Australia is watching your corrupt, unethical ways. We don’t forget until Tony is released to an animal sanctuary that can provide some quality of life for the tiger’s final years. He deserves at least a couple before he dies. The world’s attention is focused on you. We’re watching.

  32. Judy Chen says:

    This is a danger to the public – he must go to the sanctuary

  33. Sheyna Walters says:

    It is an outrage that such a majestic beautiful creature like Tony the Tiger lives this way! Who thought this was a good idea? It’s cruel! Why not allow him to live out the rest of his life in a santuary where there’s grass, space to run around, spend time with other tigers and do natural tiger behaviours. It’s unfair that humans confined him like this. Please see it in your heart to legally allow Tony freedom from a small cage & concrete. Thank you

  34. Sharon says:

    Good Luck Tony & ALDF ~ Tony truly deserves to go to a santuary

    Thank you ALDF for fighting for Tony

  35. Karen Vandenakker says:

    Please save this beautiful tiger so he can have a good life ! Prayers for you Tony!

  36. stefania says:

    Free alls animals

  37. Jackie Grant says:

    Breaking all off the rules to allow this torture of such a majestic tiger is so extremely unacceptable! What are they thinking to misuse their job positions. Let’s throw them in the cage at the truck stop for years and years.

  38. p dELLOW says:

    USA is meant to be the land of the free – well it isn’t in Louisana where the law is an ass and the judges and those in charge should all be locked up for life for putting poor Tony through hell all his life.
    Shame on the evil, vile Sandlin and why don’t people boycott this cesspit? By going there it’s increasing the POS’s income. Stop going and he’ll stop keeping Tony.

  39. Allan Yorkowitz says:

    What rational reason is there for this?

  40. Allen Olson says:

    Two Words: “Free Tony”

  41. Janis L King says:

    Every animal deserves to live a good life, NOT in a small cage, as entertainment!

  42. John Duffy says:


  43. SHAMSI PEARSON says:

    Words can not describe how heartbroken I am every time I see an “update” on Tony the Tiger. The ONLY update should be the news that he is to live hthe remainder of his life in the open space of a sanctuary! This animal should NEVERTHELESS have been sold to his jailer in the first place and to abuse and manipulate a state law in the way Sandlin has in order to keep this majestic animal in confinement is appalling. The state senator of Louisianna should be ashamed !! THANK YOU ADLF – please don’t stop fighting for his release!

    1. SHAMSI PEARSON says:

      That should say “should NEVER HAVE” not nevertheless!!! Stupid auto-correct!!!

  44. Wendy S. says:

    Tony needs room to roam and also companionship. He doesn’t need people staring at him all the time. Also throwing and shouting at him as I’ve read people tend to do. Have mercy for Tony.

  45. Helga S. says:

    Please..In the name of humanity release this poor suffering tiger from his ‘lifestyle’ completely unnatural for tigers.. He suffered so many years already and seriously needs to be sent to a reputable sanctuary for tigers now. PLEASE.

  46. monique carlsson says:

    Please protect Tony.

  47. Susan Haughey says:

    This tiger is suffering a toxic life. He breathes in noxious fumes and the deafening sound of the truck engines 24 hrs a day is pure torture to this animal. He suffers in a cramped cage day after day languishing in loneliness too. No animal deserves a life like this! He should be at a peaceful sanctuary with room to run and a pool to soak in. Please help free Tony from this miserable existence to an accredited sanctuary to life the remainder of his life in fresh air, peace, and tranquility.

    1. Rose says:

      So right on every point. Well said.

  48. Marsha says:

    Tony needs to be free.. This is no life for a tiger…. Send him to Branson Mo. or Tampa Fl… A cage is no answer….. FREE HIM!!!!! Nashville TN

  49. Linda Fay says:

    I have signed and shared all the petitions to free Tony the Tiger, and I am so excited to know there is a court hearing Monday!

    I keep a prayer list for the captive animals that are in terrible conditions like Tony the Tiger, Lolita the Orca in Miami, Mali the Elephant in Manila, Arturo the Polar Bear in Argentina, Phevos the Tiger in Greece, Morgan the Orca in the Netherlands, Yupi the Polar Bear in Mexico…
    Petitions for all of them can be found with a Google search.

    I pray that I will soon be taking Tony the Tiger’s name off the list of captive animals in terrible conditions!

  50. Judy Curcuru says:

    God bless you, dear Tony, and all the people helping you.

  51. susanna nylander says:

    please, Tony tiger, belong to, big cat rescue centeriin,

  52. Melanie says:

    Get Tony out of those horrible conditions and into a big cat sanctuary

  53. Anne W says:

    This is just criminal and downright evil. How can someone be above the law and given exemptions to carry on treating a wild animal in this way? It’s heartbreaking, and it’s WRONG. Tony should be in a sanctuary where he is treated as a tiger should be and where he he has a life adapted to his species. There is no question about this – it MUST happen. Good sense and humanity MUST prevail.

  54. Judith Elbling says:

    I wonder how much money has been paid to get the ruling on Tony’s behalf reversed? So from England, the very best of luck in your endeavours to free this poor benighted animal – Shame on those people who voted for the truck stop owner!

  55. gill says:

    ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’


    Being human is easy
    Being humane is a challenge we must progress toward

  56. Lindy B says:

    This beautiful wild creature should be living in peace and dignity in a sanctuary away from the dreadful, inhumane conditions he’s been kept in for so many years. How can the fools who granted this exemption to one person who is using this glorious creature to make a quick buck think that this is ok – it’s very far from being ok! Let him out of jail!!!

  57. Gloria Picchetti says:

    I pray for Tony to have a wonderful place that is beautiful and comfortable so he can enjoy the rest of his life.

  58. Debbie How says:

    How is it that only people that truly care about such animals and the abuse they suffer at the hands of idiots like the owner of this truck stop, can see this is wrong AND illegal. The people responsible for passing ACT 697 should be removed from office immediately. I agree with a person before me, what the heck is wrong with this world. These animals are not on this planet for our amusement. This situation needs to be rectified NOW and this poor, beautiful creature should be allowed to spend the remainder of his life at the said sanctuary. PLEASE free him!

  59. sharon says:

    it’s time Tony was free – he deserves sanctuary after so long in horrendous confinement…

  60. Jim Corriere says:

    This issue is still going on? Why won’t the stupid person who is keeping Tony release him to a sanctuary? How little money can this jerk make off a Tiger at a truck stop?

  61. Alexandra Silvia says:

    no one should have to live such a life. freedom for Tony!!!!

  62. Coral Jane says:

    Where’s Tony’s rights? As a big cat he deserves to be free roaming in a protected environment, not locked upon concrete in a stinking gas station. Why would Sandlin be exempt from existing animal welfare and public safety laws.. Tiger’s can’t pull petrol, he’s of no financial gain to Sandlin, people go to gas stations to buy petrol and soft drinks.

    This has been going on for too long. Take Tony, have him properly vet checked and escorted to a reputable Big Cat Sanctuary, where he can comfortably live out the rest of his years as a Big Cat, in more suitable surroundings.

  63. Christine Aspinall says:

    Best of luck on Monday! It is high time for ‘Tony’ to be freed to a better life where he can experience his ‘natural life’. It is shocking that a law that has been passed should be blocked by a handful of people. The whole sleazy setup smells of corruption. This is NOT justice. This is riding roughshod over legalities and is ‘illegal’ in itself. These people need to be charged with ‘breaking the law’ at the very least! The law is for all and NO exemption should be made for the benefit of one person!

  64. Elissa Foster says:

    I hope you are successful, and he is freed from this moron!

  65. sharon chang says:

    what a wonderful country this is!legal animal abuse on every street!Jindal is scum!

  66. Rose says:

    I agree with all these people and their beautifully written responses to this atrocity. It is ridiculous that this is still an issue. Take the tiger away from the idiot who is holding him captive in a terrible environment. Be very SURE he is placed in a BETTER natural habitat where he is safe and well fed. Be SURE he goes to a REPUTABLE rescue group. Lawmakers have got to wake up and make laws to protect animals in all situations and then these laws MUST be enforced. We are all fed up with elected officials not doing their job when it comes to animals.

  67. Susan Crane says:

    May they be protected from humans who wish to destroy . Live in an appropriate enviorment. They have that right just like us low life humans do. We are destroying the world around us. Let’s not take another little piece of it. We have caused enough damage and extinction of living things. We now must START doing the RIGHT thing for all living beings.

  68. I cannot believe these callous, corrupt low-live profiteers who keep Tony imprisoned at a lousy truck stop are STILL getting away with this. I have circulated Tony’s plight to everybody I know and THE WORLD IS OUTRAGED. I hope and pray the Defense League are successful and this poor boy lives out the rest of his life with love, care in as close to a natural environment available to him – FREE TONY THE WORLD IS WATCHING AND WAITING.

  69. Valerie Hauser says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the ALDF for continuing to advocate for this amazing animal.It’s agonizing to see the inhumane conditions that he continues to live in due to one money-grubbing jerk.May reason and compassion prevail on Monday and a new life begin for Tony.

  70. Rinda Myers says:

    It is my most sincere wish that love and compassion prevail over apparently self-serving and hateful people; and that Tony and so many other mistreated and abused animals are acknowledged worthy of grace by virtue of being created in this world along with me. Tony and his neglected companions of our world deserve no less grace than me. My heart hurts because of those very little people who cause pain to us all.

  71. Gina says:

    It is bad enough that, due to self serving human intervention, this beautiful animal, and others like him, must live out their lives in a cage, alone and deprived of contact and companionship. But at a gas station!!! This is an atrocity!! A shameful example of human cruelty and exploitation. God is outraged as are those of us who respect and revere all life he gave us.

  72. Gaia says:


  73. Why do they have a tiger at a truck stop? Why are they getting special dispensation in this instance? Are they donating too much to Bobby Jindal’s re-election campaign? That would seem to be the only thing that would make any sense!!
    Please send Tony the Tiger to a sanctuary so that he can live out the rest of his days not being hounded by the sound of trucks revving their motors and the smell of diesel being burned!! Disgusting treatment of such a rare animal!!

  74. patrica a says:

    Isn’t Kellogg’s offended that this was done to their mascot. Maybe they could weigh in and contribute to the financial necessities of Tony’s retirement.

  75. Jackie says:

    It scares me more and more that every day when I wake up and walk around free, this abused wild animal may be living his last without ever seeing a decent surrounding. How these people can all get away with blatant corruption of laws to allow continual abuse of an animal is beyond me. How a first world country can accept this continued abuse just shows how far this country still has to go.

  76. Joy says:

    Where does it state for the record, “It is unlawful for lawmakers to break the law…”?
    Are the law books that vague that average people without legal comprehension within the system to blame? Should any person within said establishment take note and heed to this fact? Lift your voice and act! ACT BASED ON FACT.

  77. Rhana Wyble says:

    Let Tony go to the sanctuary. He has suffered long enough. It takes a special kind of idiot to make a majestic creature like Tony live out his life in a cage. The owner of the truck stop is breaking the law, send Tony to the sanctuary and put the owner in the cage. For every year Tony had to suffer.

  78. Janis L King says:

    “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals” Immanuel Kant
    Let Tony have a real home, no animal should have to spend their lives in a cage!

  79. Marie Madden says:

    This selfish owner keeps this poor tiger in a cage at a truck stop because he makes money off him. The Governor also played a part in protecting this low life owner and he is to blame as well. This animal belongs in a nice sanctuary where he can live out his life in comfort and peace. Eventually justice will prevail for this animal and I don’t foresee animal lovers re-electing this governor.

  80. Scott Taylor says:

    Time for Tony to live a decent life. Let him go to a Sanctuary.

  81. Nancy Amidzich says:

    Tony has earned his freedom. May he roam the sanctuary in peace. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  82. Margaret Mary Davison says:

    The fact that the governor issued an exemption to Sandlin is outrageous, and wreaks of corruption! After all the court rulings, and laws broken by the gas station owner, WHY would the governor do such a thing?
    I have great respect and admiration for the ALDF, and believe they will fight this until Tony is free.

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