The Louisiana Senate failed to pass Senate Bill 250 from State Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, which aimed to exempt certain big-cat owners from a state law banning exotic pet ownership. The law would apply to Michael Sandlin, who owns the 13-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger named Tony, who has lived in a cage at Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete for more than a decade.
The bill passed the Senate's Committee on Natural Resources April 15. The committee amended the bill to remove an exemption for people who hold a USDA Class C exhibitor's license, which Sandlin possesses. Last week, the Senate voted 18-19 against the measure.
Ward's bill attempted to undercut a 2006 state law banning private ownership of exotic pets by exempting those permit holders.
Attempts to remove Tony from the truck stop have been ongoing for years. More recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Sandlin's petition in October 2013 to review the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling that Tony can't live at the truck stop. In 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep Tony, and in April 2013, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal held that Sandlin can't keep Tony, nor can he keep that permit. — ALEX WOODWARD