Louisiana: Lawsuit filed over tiger kept at truck stop- Animal advocates want cats removed

By Kevin McGill

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- An animal advocacy group and a former state legislator have filed suit against Louisiana wildlife officials, saying they violated the law when they issued a permit allowing a live tiger to be kept at a truck stop west of Baton Rouge.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and former state Rep. Warren Triche Jr. are among plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Monday in state district court in Baton Rouge. The suit says the permit issued in 2009 and renewed last year violates state law.

The permit was issued to Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, La. Sandlin and some animal advocacy groups have been at odds for years over his keeping of exotic cats at the truck stop.

A spokesman for the Wildlife and Fisheries Department declined comment Monday, noting that the department had not received a copy of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says regulations adopted by the department under a 2006 state law forbid the possession of tigers. People who legally owned such animals prior to the 2006 law could continue to be permitted. But the lawsuit says Sandlin's keeping of tigers before the law was passed also was illegal, violating a parish law. Also, the lawsuit claims, Sandlin cannot keep a tiger at the truck stop because he does not live on the premises as required by law.

Sandlin is not a defendant in the lawsuit. He was not at the truck stop when a phone call seeking comment was made Monday evening but has long defended his keeping of tigers at the truck stop.

"Some people have told us our cats look like they get better care than cats at a lot of the zoos," Sandlin says on his website.

Triche, of Thibodaux, was the chief sponsor of a 2004 Louisiana law that bans many "hog dog" events in which dogs attack penned, often de-tusked hogs if "it is intended or reasonably foreseeable that the canines or hogs would be injured, maimed, mutilated, or killed."

Published: Wed, Apr 13, 2011