An attorney for a truck stop owner told a Louisiana appeals court that an animal rights group and several individuals had no legal right to file suit in 2010 challenging a Grosse Tete truck stop’s state permit to house a 550-pound tiger at the facility.
But a lawyer representing the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the other plaintiffs countered that Tony poses
a threat to the “safety and welfare of the citizens” and that those very citizens, as taxpayers, had the right to contest the permit.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/WOzNm0) a three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal heard the arguments Tuesday. The panel took the arguments under advisement without indicating when a decision would be issued.
Jennifer Treadway Morris, who represents Tiger Truck Stop and owner Michael Sandlin, argued that state District Judge Mike Caldwell erred in the fall of 2011 when he barred the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from issuing any new permits to the truck stop to keep Tony there. The facility’s last annual state permit expired at the end of 2011.
Caldwell concluded the department violated its own rules by exempting Sandlin and Tiger Truck Stop from permit requirements for owners of big cats. The judge ruled that a state permit can be issued only to an individual, not a corporation. Tiger Truck Stop was the permit holder, not Sandlin, he said.
Morris asked the appellate court panel to reverse Caldwell and lift the injunction against any new state permits for the truck stop to continue housing the tiger.
She stressed to 1st Circuit Judges Randolph Parro and Jewel “Duke” Welch and retired Judge William Kline that there are no abuse, cruelty or safety issues at the truck stop and noted that the facility has a federal permit since 1988 to house a tiger at the facility.
Tony has been at Tiger Truck Stop for more than a decade.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has said previously that Tony is the last privately owned big and exotic cat in the state. Sandlin has said the tiger is well cared for, healthy and happy.