Speak Up for a Big Cat: A Truck Stop is No Place for a Tiger!
A couple of months ago, I posted about Tony the Siberian Bengal tiger who sadly resides at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La., as nothing but an attraction for his owner Michael Sandlin.
Previously, Sandlin was violating a public ordinance that prevents people from owning and displaying wild and exotic animals. This also prevented the state’s Wildlife and Fishery Department from granting him a permit to own Tony. When they gave Sandlin 30 days to find Tony a new home, he instead filed a lawsuit.
Unfortunately for Tony, the Iberville Parish Council decided to amend the ordinance making it legal to keep a tiger, instead of enforcing their own laws, meaning Tony isn’t going anywhere.
Tony’s still got some champions, including fellow Care2 member Sky Williamson, who have joined forces with Big Cat Rescue in their efforts to see him moved to their accredited wildlife preserve, and they have not given up fighting for him.
From the last post… Williamson, who stumbled upon the truck stop started fighting for Tony in 2005, calls Tony’s living situation animal cruelty on display. “I will never forget that day,” she said. “It took me down to my knees. There were 15 big trucks lined up nearby, all of them running. The smell was horrid. There was feces all over the cage.”
Sandlin, and others on his side argue, in the spirit of let’s leave well enough alone, that this is the only home Tony’s ever known, so he’s better off staying at the truck stop where he is a loved member of the family. If that’s a valid argument, then one could also say that a puppy mill is the only home some dogs have ever known, so they’re better off staying there too, which obviously makes no sense.
Sandlin also says he’s kept tigers there for over 20 years without incident. What he conveniently fails to mention is that he has 20 years worth of USDA violations including unsanitary feeding practices, failure to provide clean water, failure to provide adequate shelter, mishandling tigers, failure to provide veterinary care and the most recent on the list being failure to clean cages and maintain adequate sanitation in 2007.
Those USDA violations sure do scream loving home, don’t they?
The ordinance was amended with conditions that Sandlin improve Tony’s living space. However, according to Williamson, no changes have been made to actually improve Tony’s conditions, except for repainting his cage, which is obviously pretty worthless.
Additionally, the state’s Wildlife and Fishery Department has not issued Sandlin a permit, which means he can keep Tony in the conditions he’s living in indefinitely.
Regardless of whether or not Sandlin makes any improvements, a truck stop is no place for a tiger!!!
You Can Help!!!
Please take a moment to speak up for Tony by sending an email to the following people:
J. Mitchell Ourso, Iberville Parish President: email@example.com
Maria Davidson, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal here.