Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against Louisiana for Violating State Constitution with New Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Law

Posted on June 25, 2014

Governor Jindal’s Signature on SB 250 Draws National Controversy and Courtroom Showdown

For immediate release:

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

tony-the-tiger-copyright-JS-2014BATON ROUGE—In their ongoing battle to free Tony, a tiger living at Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and former Representative Warren Triche, Jr. filed suit against the State of Louisiana for violating the Louisiana Constitution by passing a law that exempts a single individual from existing state public safety and animal welfare laws. The sole purpose of SB 250, signed by Governor Jindal last week as “Act 697,” is to allow Tiger Truck Stop owner Michael Sandlin to keep the 14-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger caged in a gas station parking lot––captivity that previously violated Louisiana law, which prohibits the private possession of dangerous large exotic cats. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Representative Warren Triche Jr., the Louisiana legislator who sponsored the 2006 big exotic cats ban, as well as other Louisiana residents and taxpayers, in the East Baton Rouge District Court. The defendants include the State of Louisiana, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Tiger Truck Stop, and Michael Sandlin.

According to the lawsuit, Act 697 violates the Louisiana Constitution’s prohibition on “special laws” that grant exclusive benefits to any private individual or interest. ALDF seeks an injunction against these privileges given to Sandlin, who has repeatedly sought preferential treatment while openly violating the law. Act 697 would undo several legal victories achieved by ALDF on Tony the tiger’s behalf, and retroactively remove the protections Tony received under the existing ban. Rep. Warren Triche, Jr. explains that “Tony’s situation played a principal role in passing the 2006 bill, as he was a perfect example of why such legislation was needed.” Governor Jindal recently has taken several actions that many see as anti-animal welfare, including signing a bill to declare the blood sport of fox penning part of the state heritage, and vetoing a Republican bill that would have protected dogs in pickup trucks.

In 2011, ALDF successfully sued LDWF for unlawfully issuing Sandlin a permit to exhibit Tony. ALDF was joined in the suit by former Rep. Triche, Jr. and several other Louisiana taxpayers. In April 2013, the Louisiana Court of Appeal held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Stop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony captive. In October 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court let that decision stand.

“By vetoing pro-animal laws brought forth by his own party, and signing this unconstitutional law, Governor Jindal has cast a shadow over his aspirations for a national run for the White House,” said Stephen Wells, executive director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund will not allow Tony’s protections to be subverted by backroom politics. Tony deserves to live in a reputable sanctuary, not a gas station parking lot.”


85 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against Louisiana for Violating State Constitution with New Tony the Truck Stop Tiger Law

  1. Kaci Kelly says:

    Don’t stop fighting for Tony! Sometimes when you do something you know is right, other’s don’t like it & fight against you. Tony should be free & I hope they don’t stop until he is.

    1. Kathleen stewart says:

      Please let Tony have a few good days in his life. X x x

    2. Bonnie Lewenza says:

      Kaci we will never give up on Tony he deserves to experience his natural life, the way it was intended. We at Care2 are appealling to President Obama to put an end to this.

  2. Suzanne Hunter says:

    Yes, please do not stop fighting for Tony to be freed from this inhumane slavery. Let’s all do whatever we can to support his transition to a sanctuary.

  3. Alex Clausen says:

    This is not an acceptable option for this poor, beautiful creature that never should have been removed from its habitat in the first place. Find him a safe place to spend his remaining years.

  4. Lori says:

    Free this beautiful creature from concrete and cages!! He needs to be in his habitat, free!!

  5. Vanda Wall says:

    Thanks for not giving up on Tony. He can’t speak for himself so it’s up to us to speak on his behalf. He deserves much better than he’s been given.

  6. Dawn dowling says:

    He should retire in a sanctuary

  7. Bambi Harrison says:

    Stop this cruelty! He needs to live in a sanctuary & not in a cage for cheap, human entertainment. People can find OTHER things to do! He doesn’t belong in a cage!

  8. Donna Varney says:

    Please let this tiger go to a sanctuary, n live it’s live!!!
    Please don’t use this tiger as a prop. It is it is a living,breathing being. Have a heart!!!

  9. judy johnson says:

    TONY DESERVES SO MUCH BETTER! BOO HISS on those responsible for keeping this AMAZING animal in this SHAMEFUL STATE! FREE TONY & CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!

  10. Anne says:

    What can be done to expedite the ruling/hearing of this lawsuit on behalf of TONY the TIGER. He has been captive in this truck stop for 14 years. He turns 14 in JULY. Now is the time because independence day is approaching that he can be set free and transported to a WILDLIFE TIGER SANCTUARY that is safe with other tigers in his natural simulated habitat (not another cage or zoo)

  11. LeAnn says:

    Poor innocent Tony deserves a safe & natural sanctuary to live out his remaining years. Humans do not deserve to use and abuse innocent creatures of God for their own corrupt greed.
    please please please Free Tony! ♥♡♥♡

  12. anne parrish says:

    Why doesn’t our government protect the innocent lives of animals from suffering or torture? The murderers,rapist & child molesters are protected and treated better than the animals that have never been a threat to society. I wish every single monster pretending to be human, suffers the same abuse or torture the animals had to endure. These people will keep on abusing animals, because there is no deterant to stop them. If they knew that they would have to suffer the same abuse, then animal cruelty would finally come to an end.

  13. sharon mcaulay says:

    Stop this barbarianism against animals! Every animal should be free! We do not own them and shd never incarcarate them. This is nothing short of torture!

  14. Warren A. Jones, Attorney says:

    This is sad news, although not totally unanticipated. Louisiana has not been known for it’s stellar government, to wit: Bobby Jindal and his predecessor Kathleen Blanco. Jindal has ambitions for higher office; but won’t make it with this kind of conduct. Keep up your good work, and never give up!

  15. Marilyn Morrison says:

    This is – pure and simple – animal abuse. The magnificent creature needs to be in his own kind of environment, not in a small cage with a stone floor, for people to stare at!! Let him have the rest of his life enjoying “freedom.” DON’T GIVE UP UNTIL TONY IS OUT OF THIS ABUSIVE CONDITION!!

  16. Lynn says:

    I wonder how that governor or the owner of the gas station would feel if they had to be locked in a cage day in and day out, having to breathe all those fumes? Maybe if they had to suffer that treatment they would realize how inhumane it is!

  17. Spero con tutto il mio cuore che questa splendida creatura rimasta senza gli affetti più cari,madre e fratelli un tempo,ora possa trascorrere una nuova vita serena e libera in un grande santuario per animali selvatici,tutta l’America appoggia sua libertà,migliaia di tigers sono state salvate da miserabili gabbie,perchè lei negata happiness e freedom?

  18. Irene Huskisson says:

    Do the right thing.

  19. Dennis Wolff says:

    this animal deserves to in a Sanctuary living out it’s life, not in a tiny prison, for people’s entertainment.

  20. Barbara Campbell says:

    So thankful that thus lawsuit is filed. We must keep pressure on those who choose to ignore the rights of animals and defend individuals who do not deserve special treatment . Thank you for standing up for this poor tiger.

  21. Gloria Picchetti says:

    Toney deserves to live the rest of his life in a natural, comfortable, clean place not a truck stop.

  22. yvonne perkins says:

    give Tony the life and freedom he deserves and stop making money out of him

  23. Thank You so much for your persistence, dedication and respect for this magnificent tiger who deserves a proper home in one of the reputable sanctuaries that have standing offers for him. SB 250 supporters can argue interminably, but there is no justification whatsoever – legally, ethically or humanely – to make the case for Tony to be kept at the truck stop. Tony deserves the opportunity to retire to a peaceful, healthy, natural environment. No animal should be exploited as a roadside attraction at a truck stop.

  24. Rose Stefano says:

    Thank you for all you do….we are with you!

  25. Margaretha Bolhuis says:

    I hope That Tony get away from this place,its so Sad and creul to put Tony in this ugly truck,no animal disurvers to live in this hell please help Tony,save him

  26. Roser Prades says:

    It’s barbaric to have a tiger like this. Please take him to a sanctuarie.

  27. Linda Hoyt says:

    I just learned of this abomination. Please get Tony out ASAP! What a degrading, demoralizing, disgusting way to treat this amazingly magnificent tiger!

  28. Linda Hoyt says:

    Please save Tony from this fate worse than death!

  29. Please do the right thing and get this animal to a sanctuary where he can finish off the rest of his life, instead of filling the profits of its owner, who doesn’t care to give him proper exercise and suitable housing.

  30. Alison says:

    I agree with all that has been said already. The fact that such cruelty and illegal activity persists, despite clear violations, is a sad statement about Louisiana law, and about the USDA “oversight”. Thanks to ALDF for bringing Tony his long overdue freedom.

  31. Rebecca Morrell says:

    God Bless you for continuing on your quest to free Tony!
    And I quote …
    “This is my quest, to follow that star …
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
    To fight for the right, without question or pause …
    To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause … “

  32. Tara Davison says:

    Thank you! Keep fighting. This terrible misuse of the legal process so that one man can enslave a beautiful rare creature must be stopped.

  33. Simon Pearson says:

    A total travesty.
    Once laws are changed to accommodate individual needs, then you no longer have a democracy. Just anything is possible.
    It is a slippery slope, where those with money and influence will determine the quality of life for all.
    We must fight to the death on this one.

  34. Sharon says:

    Thanks ALDF ~ We will not stop fighting for Tony!

  35. Carla Pereir. says:

    Please continue fighting for Tony! He doesn’t deserve to live out the rest his life in a cage for human greed and entertainment.

  36. DH says:

    I wonder if a better, or possibly concurrent, tactic ought to be hiring someone to investigate some of these Senators & the Governor, because something is VERY fishy here about this continual support for Sandlin, despite existing State laws and Constitutions. Maybe they’re all involved in some slimy crime syndicates (e.g. animal fighting rings), the exotic animal trade industry, or something equally heinous, with dirt on each other that’s used to force compliance in upholding this exemption? Clearly, this Jindal guy is insanely anti-animal, and likely with hidden agendas. But if any of them can be forced out of their positions… Just a thought.

    1. Marcella Manuel says:

      Certainly does make you wonder what is going on. This is my home state and I am beyond disgusted with the backdoor politics and backwoods thinking and I’m sick to death of the rest of the country believing that we are all just ignorant neanderthals. Bobby Jindal has not only let down his own party, he’s let down the state. Come on guys, this is just so simple. Give me one good, legitimate reason why we would force this beautiful king of an animal to spend his entire life as someone’s concrete slave. Do we still support slavery of the defenseless?

  37. Edward Jasiewicz says:

    The petition provided on to enable Tony’s continued captivity is misleading and downright deceptive. Beware the double-speak of those who exploit such great animals for their own profit and personal whims. Jindal has proven his corrupt susceptibility over this matter and should be brought up on ethics charges.

    1. Rae Domingues says:

      WHAT???!!!! How is the petition misleading and deceptive? It says exactly what it purports to do, i.e., free Tony. To undo unjust legislation that circumvented a law to satisfy the whim of one individual.

  38. Nancy Lavine says:

    This is outrageous that beautiful amimal needs to be free Louisiana you should be ashamed of your selves I would not live in your state if you paid me to live there! Do the right thing and free that beautiful animal.

  39. Lynne Benedetto says:

    The owner should be locked up in the cage. Let Tony go to a decent place to live out his remaining years. His living conditions are disgusting. Let him go and stop anyone from being allowed to hold an animal captive again.

  40. M. Keith says:

    Free Tony to a sanctuary. Investigate truck stop owner & gov.!

  41. Jon Fedele says:

    One doesn’t have too confine and exploit an animal to sell gas. Gas sells itself. Let Tony go.

    1. Michelle Payne says:

      I agree with you Jon … let Tony run free on big cat sanctuary grounds somewhere free of gas fumes …

  42. F Jones says:

    Jindal should be punished for committing a criminal act, thinking he’s president of LA? And playing God with unconscious women’s bodies on life support if pregnant? Cutting off Medicaid to disabled people? He needs a full psychological evaluation and impeachment.

  43. Sara Miller says:

    It makes me sick that people can take another creature that shares this planet and cage it up for their amusement and profit. Free Tony you ignorant ass son of bitch. So sick of people thinking they can just take animals out of the wild and cage them up like they own them. We don’t own the wild. Leave the wildlife alone and free Tony, NOW!!!!

  44. Lori Lindquist says:

    This is a total outrage to do to any living breathing creature. Please help this innocent animal. Thank you,Lori

  45. GNelson says:

    Who do you think you are putting this beautiful animal in a terrible situation because of what??!! This person is a waste of air and space….Trust me, God sees all.

  46. Michelle Payne says:

    Would it be beneficial as a citizen of Florida to write a letter to the Governor of LA in support of Tony’s release? Would writing your lawyer a letter of support be beneficial? Praying for Tony, all other animals in the world, and those fighting the battle for him.

    God Bless and Hugs, Tony and Team!!!! Michelle

  47. Sarah Melcher says:

    I have such a hard time believing this is happening, that a man who they say has aspirations for the White House thinks keeping a wild tiger in a little cage by a roadside is a great thing. I can’t believe anybody elected someone who thinks that way!

  48. Cynthia says:

    Let the Tiger go live out his life in a sanctuary. He is a living breathing being and this is just an example of human selfishness. Thank you for keeping the pressure on. I look forward to the day and video of him being let out of the cage of knowing freedom. God Bless all working on his behalf.

  49. Lucy Peixoto says:

    We Will Not Give Up. This Tiger will be free. DONT GIVE UP. We will free this Tiger and Justice will Prevail over this sick perversion of the Louisiana Legislature

  50. Marcella Manuel says:

    Can Jindal be impeached for breaking the law?

  51. Monica vinet says:

    We will not give up until this poor creature is free and stop suffering, how can that man be so cruel and do that. I will put him in tha cage for 14 years

  52. Tiffini says:

    Tony should be freed. End of story. No animal should be caged. If he has any compassion for Tony the Tiger he should let him enjoy the rest of his life living without bars. He hasn’t done anything thing do deserve to be behind bars. Now the owner should be behind bars for keeping a beautiful animal caged!

  53. Lyn says:

    What kind of a person is this Michael Sandlin and he must have family and friends who allow this terrible thing to happen to Tony…
    YOU Michael Sandlin should be caged… life can change on a dim and I hope you get what you deserve one way or another …SHAME ON YOU!!!

  54. Amanda M says:

    Thank you ALDF! Continued support for Tony is vital, your org has done tremendous work for Tony over the years. We have all suffered a set back with the passage and signing of SB250, yet we will continue to fight for this tiger’s release to an accredited sanctuary. That anyone can seriously claim a wild tiger is better off in a concrete cage, being in close proximity to gawkers and hecklers, breathing diesel fumes 24-7, with no other animal contact and a very small area of dirt to stretch his legs, that person knows in his/her heart that they are lying. Sandlin can try to sugarcoat his behavior of late but his own horrific history with tigers cant be unmade.

    Free Tony to a reputable sanctuary for big cats where knowledgeable people can maintain his health, diet and well being. No day would be too soon to see Tony freed.

    This time we all need to support ALDF even more with petitions, phone calls and a tweet storm that will make Louisiana legislators hair stand on end.

  55. gene goldring says:

    A political obituary in the making……….and I volunteer to read the eulogy ! Let Tony go free, as he was meant to be. Thanks to all the animal welfarists who devote their time and passion to the pursuit of dignity for all living beings.

  56. Diane says:

    This is so unfair. Why is this idiot allowed to get away with animal cruelty and abuse? He should be in prison like all the other felons! Punishment cannot be harsh enough for idiots like this. He is a puss filled boil on the anus of the earth. That’s what he is.

  57. dee ahlquist says:

    Jindal should not be allowed to get awisn’t Jin Dallasis!
    How much goes into his pockets? What is in it for him?
    This case MUST be setteled ASAP, Tony deserves to breath fresh air and be free! This is disgusting, and so is Jindal!

  58. Tammy says:

    This reminds me of the Edward days of corruption. I thought Jindal was above this kind of corruption, boy was I wrong. If he was running for president he would take up where Obama left off with doing what he wants & when he wants without suffering the consequences. This great cat needs to be free to roam and not be caged up. No amount of government corruption should keep this beautiful creature in a prison. We need to put Jindal in the same cage and see how it feels to be in a cage because someone bought him off!!!

  59. MJ Mallory says:

    It is past time to free Tony. Tragic he has spent his life existing and deserves to live the rest of his life free and happy.

  60. Suzanne Billings says:

    I can not believe that Governor Jindal did this despicable act of signing a bill to keep this beautiful tiger caged up after 14 years of being confined to a cage and forced to inhale all the gas fumes and other neglect that he has suffered. Regretfully I voted for him for Governor but he is not the man I thought he was. I can say I definitely will not ever vote for him for any other office and especially for the Presidential office.

  61. I wish Tony all the luck he can get through this process towards his release to a Catsantuary. I am totally sure that he will have a better life there during the remain of his life!

  62. Cathleen Cascia says:

    What’s wrong with Governor Jindal??? Obviously, he’s very evil & twisted!!! What does he have to gain?
    What is the best way to contact Governor Jindal’s office?
    Thanks for all your great and relentless work and efforts!

  63. Pamela Goodchild says:

    People have to vote with their feet! Stop going there, don’t buy anything from him! Make sure that the man who decided that his mate should be able to keep a tiger in captivity knows that he will no longer be voted for! Unbelievable, how these 2 sick individuals can keep ignoring the rest of the world!

  64. Cathleen Cascia says:

    There is something strange going on behind the scenes in Lousiana given Governor Jindal, the State of LA, etc. are so against animal welfare. Must be some kind of illegal acitivity, such as kicbacks…doesn’t make sense otherwise!

  65. sharon chang says:

    fight the good fight!Jindal,Sandlin and the other politicians that voted to keep Tony in his prison will surely get theirs!Jindal will surely never be president and animal rights advocates will not forget Jindals total lack of compassion!Hell awaits all those who care not about animals!

  66. Cheryl Hughes says:

    Please let Tony live a life of freedom, hasn’t this poor animal suffered enough?? animals are always the victims of mans greed!!

  67. Jaime McSweeney says:

    Free Tony.

  68. Vivian Farmer says:

    Is Tony still in that cage in that parking lot??? I thought they released him a couple of years ago. I am sick to think Tony is still caged up!! KEEP FIGHTING TO FREE HIM! I never expected that dirty action from Jindal! I will NEVER vote for him again for any office!

  69. Sarah Walpole says:

    Everyone needs to remember how horrified we all were when we learnt about the 3 women and a child being held prisoners by that beast castro. Also think of the many other human victims that have come to light over the years after escaping from their ‘prisons’ and human captors. If it is wrong to keep a human caged then its wrong to keep any earthling caged! FREE TONY NOW

  70. Catherine Henderson says:

    Please don’t stop, Tony needs to be freed from that awful place. Besides being held alone in captivity who knows what all those gas fumes are doing to him, please I beg someone to have love and empathy and let this tiger spend his years in a reserve for all the pain he’s had to endear

  71. Lisa White says:

    Please don’t ever stop fighting for Tony! He deserves to be free once and for all. Tonys days and nights must be filled with so much boredom just sitting in that small pen!!!!! My heart just breaks for him!!!!!
    I pray that one day soon he will be able to roam, forage for his food and live like a tiger should, safe in a sanctuary free from that truck stop and most of all “Happy” for the first time in many, many years!!!!! We all have to never stop fighting for beloved Tony.

  72. Michele Vernet says:

    Gov. Jindal! Are you what we want in the White House next,? I used to to think maybe, now no know better! Once again I’m reminded that greedy politicians really don’t think outside the box when it comes to the “other” beings! The creatures who depend on us, Animal activists, because they have no voice! Please Gov. Jindal, rethink your actions! They are lethal to powerless beings and…to animal lovers. You know what our power is, don’t you?! Don’t think we will forget!

  73. Cecilia Furnish says:

    Please let Tony go live the remaining few years of his life in a reputable santuary for tigers. Let him live in peace and safety.

  74. Teresa Barrera says:

    I’ve been following along Tony’s story for a while now & still can’t believe he still is stuck at that truck stop. Thanks to the internet, mainly Twitter for bringing my attention to Tony credit to @FreeTonyTiger & @TonyTiger2000 for always roaring for Tony, I came across Tony’s story through them years ago & continue to follow & spread the word as much as I can. I really am frustrated at how the law says no one can own a wild exotic animal, yet Michael Sandlin somehow isn’t held to that law & Bobby Jindal could care less in my opinion due to him signing away Tony’s freedom. It angers me that Tony’s welfare isn’t in consideration & as reported, Michael Sandlin has had numerous violations. He claims to love Tony & claims Tony is well cared for, but it isn’t love or care when using a life as entertainment & to make profits. It’s not love to keep Tony enclosed in a small enclosure breathing in fumes & surrounded by noise day after day & without any companionship. Love is putting another before yourself & one’s own needs & if Michael truly loved Tony as he so claims, he would have set him free into a sanctuary to live out the rest of his life free & happy. I’m truly embarrassed in the leadership in my state of Louisiana & disappointed to say the least. I’m frustrated & can’t even comprehend why nothing is being done for Tony, why Michael is allowed to bend the law. It’s not right & it’s setting a bad example for others who think owning a wild animal is ok & they can break the law with the right people behind them. No one should be above the law. And no animal should have to suffer due to man’s greed. The want, need & greed & attainability for man’s captivity of wild exotic animals should be banned & against the law. From elephants to tigers to monkeys, etc., no animal should be tortured, abused, used for entertainment or kept where they shouldn’t. Enough is enough for Tony, he’s been the center of entertainment long enough, he’s suffered enough pacing with his sad eyes. He deserves freedom & happiness & I will continue to support & roar along with others for his freedom.

  75. Maru vega says:

    We all deserve love and respect.
    Let him leave in peace. PLEASE.

  76. Pat Hicks says:

    Please keep fighting for Tony the Tiger’s animal rights. This case has global support. I pray Tony’s freedom will come soon as 3 sanctuaries in different states are standing by ready to take the beautiful tiger to live his life the way God intended.

  77. Jody Bowers says:

    What’s wrong with this governor? He seems to have a great moral flaw. Ish. He will get his in Hell.

  78. Linda Moore says:

    How DARE THEY! Allowing one person a deal opens the door for EVERYONE ELSE to get special treatment! Keep fighting ALDF! We’re WITH YOU!

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