Ever since his birth in July of 2000, Tony, a Bengal-Siberian mix tiger, has spent every day and night confined to a small, barren enclosure at a truck stop in Grosse Tete, La. Here, he has been subjected to a continuous onslaught of car exhaust and loud noises for over a decade, rarely receiving the proper care or enrichment he so desperately needs.
Despite these clearly inappropriate conditions, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has refused to uphold a 2006 state law (Act 715) that prohibits the sale and ownership of big exotic cats and even allowed any owner who kept big cats prior to August 15, 2006 to continue doing so as long as they file for an annual permit with the department.
Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, was one of the big cat owners “grandfathered” in under the law. However, upon seeing Tony’s continued plight, concerned citizens and nonprofits Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and Big Cat Rescue have fought tirelessly over the years to free Tony from his life of misery.
Two major victories were won for Tony in 2013 when the Louisiana Court of Appeal “held that Sandlin and the Tiger Truck Shop were ineligible for a big cat permit and could no longer keep Tony” and when the Louisiana Supreme Court later “rejected Sandlin’s petition and let [the Court of Appeal] decision stand,” the ALDF reports.
Unfortunately, the Louisiana legislature (or at least a selection of its members) does not seem to care much for Tony’s plight and that of other big cats kept as captive pets (when it’s so clear that big cats should never be pets).
Recently, the Louisiana Senate Committee on Natural Resources quickly passed Senate Bill 250, which undermines the 2006 state law by exempting “certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cats rules.”
“The bill is an attempt to retroactively remove Tony’s protection under the 2006 law, and allow Michael Sandlin to retain possession of Tony,” the ALDF states.
We cannot let another round-about policy keep Tony confined any longer. It’s time he was freed from his miserable life at the Tiger Truck Stop and provided with a proper home at a real wildlife sanctuary that would attend to his every need, instead of using him to turn a profit like Sandlin has for years. Do your part to help Tony by taking action using the steps below — we must be his voice!
- Sign this Change.org petition urging the LDWF to uphold state law and ensure that Tony is freed to a reputable sanctuary.
- Contact the LDWF directly to speak out against its continued disregard for Tony’s welfare.
- If you live in Louisiana, contact your state legislators today and ask them to oppose SB 250.
- Keep up with the campaign to free Tony on Facebook and through this site.
Image Source: Free Tony the Tiger / Facebook