Jindal exempts law to allow truck stop owner to keep tiger

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South

BATON ROUGE - Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal signed a bill exempting the owner of a tiger at a Grosse Tete truck stop from existing Louisiana law that prohibits private possession of dangerous and exotic large cats.

Owner Michael Sandlin pushed for this bill after several Louisiana courts rejected his permit to keep a 14 year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony in a gas station parking lot.

In a unanimous 2012 decision by the Louisiana Court of Appeal, the Animal Legal Defense Fund won a three-year lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for improperly issuing Sandlin a permit in violation of the big exotic cats ban.

Last fall, the Louisiana Supreme Court let that decision stand. Jindal’s signing now overturns those legal victories by undermining the settled rulings of Louisiana courts. The Animal Legal Defense Fund believes this law is unconstitutional and immediately plans to challenge its validity.

The bill was rushed through a Louisiana Senate committee with very little notice and failed to pass the floor on its first attempt.

After ultimately making it out of the Senate by a single vote, it finally passed out of the Louisiana House on the last day of the legislative session and was sent to the Jindal’s desk over the strong objections of veterinarians, animal advocates, and other lawmakers, including former Louisiana Rep. Warren Triche, who sponsored the law banning private parties from keeping large cats.

“Jindal has just signed a bill into law that violates his own state constitution,” said executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund Stephen Wells. “Sandlin repeatedly lost in the courts so he found a way to make his own one-man law. We will not let Tony suffer because of this back-door sidestepping of the legal system.”

The 2006 law was passed unanimously by the Louisiana legislature and was drafted by Triche specifically with Tony’s plight in mind.

“This law circumvents the three-tiered court system, including the Louisiana Court of Appeal, for the benefit of one individual,” said Rep. Warren Triche. “It is my understanding the Louisiana Constitution does not allow an individual to seek special favors to undo what the courts have already decided.”