"Allowing an individual to override court decisions and violate local and state laws in order to retain possession of a dangerous wild animal invites other would-be big exotic cat owners to come forward requesting their own exemptions to state and local laws."
A California-based animal rights group that has been in and out of court - victoriously - fighting Grosse Tete truck stop owner Michael Sandlin over his caged Bengal-Siberian roadside attraction tiger is calling on those who support allowing "Tony" to live out his days in a sanctuary to contact Gov. Bobby Jindal and urge him to veto the Senate Bill 250. The bill, which grandfathers Sandlin's right to keep the 550-pound tiger in a cage at his truck stop, cleared a final hurdle in the House today and is headed to Jindal's desk for his signature.
Here's the press release from the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
On May 30, 2014 the Louisiana House passed SB 250, a bill that subverts the intent of a 2006 state law prohibiting the importation and possession of big exotic cats. That dangerous wild animal ban was introduced by Rep. Warren Triche specifically with Tony the tiger's deplorable captivity in mind, and passed unanimously in the Louisiana legislature. However, this new bill, SB 250, carves out a retroactive exemption to place Michael Sandlin above the law that applies to all other Louisiana citizens, and thus imposes a life sentence of caged solitary confinement upon Tony. It further could open the door to Louisiana becoming a safe haven for unscrupulous owners to bring exotic animals from other states.
SB 250 also directly overturns a judicial decision made by the Louisiana Court of Appeals in ALDF's victorious lawsuit. We have worked long and hard to free Tony the Tiger from life at a truck stop and send him to a reputable sanctuary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary was willing to provide this care and sanctuary for Tony, so that Tony might live out his remaining years in sanctuary rather than a gas station parking lot. The Wild Animal Sanctuary's executive director Pat Craig, along with ALDF's Carter Dillard and Chris Green, testified before the legislature and provided expert advice and recommendations in the best interest of Tony.
The bill has not been signed by Governor Bobby Jindal, and ALDF's next step is to urge Governor Jindal to veto this bill and decline to set such a perilous precedent. Allowing an individual to override court decisions and violate local and state laws in order to retain possession of a dangerous wild animal invites other would-be big exotic cat owners to come forward requesting their own exemptions to state and local laws. Not only would this be a further waste of taxpayer money and a subversion of the legal system, but it would mean more animals suffering the way that Tony continues to suffer every day.
ALDF is asking all supporters to send Governor Jindal a message urging him to veto SB 250. The online action is available here.