BtC4animalsThe Thanksgiving holiday provided much to be thankful for, especially at, an animal advocacy site that Amy Burkert and I co-founded in late Spring. It has been inspiring to watch as a dedicated and growing online community rallies to create positive change for animals in need, one cause at a time without spending a cent. And this week was the cake-topper.


Last night, I hunkered down to comb our statistics and report BtC’s successes in this morning’s Monthly Review. As I clicked the graph, I was dumbfounded.

Why did our weekly traffic flat-line with this giant spike on the 25th? Is our website broken? Are my eyeballs?

As it turns out, when our page hits jumped from the typical few hundred  to nearly 10,000 on Thanksgiving Day, the peaks and dips on the rest of the graph were dwarfed.


Tony the TigerVisitors are coming in droves to support Tony, a caged tiger who has paced for 10 years at Louisiana’s Tiger Truck Stop amid inescapable diesel fumes, flood lights, engine noise and customers’ taunts. Although Big Cat Rescue of Tampa, FL offered Tony a naturalized and enriched refuge to peacefully live out his days,  Tony’s owner, Michael Sandlin, refuses to give him up.

This is where Tony lives now as opposed to what life could be like at Big Cat Rescue.

To help Tony:

  • Send a Letter (using Big Cat Rescue’s one-step form) urging the USDA, Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service and more to end to the trade in tigers in private hands.
  • Sign the Petition (closing December 31) calling for the denial of Micheal Sandlin’s permit.
  • Share Tony’s Facebook,   Twitter and  YouTube sites.

Hoping this sad story compels you to act, as it did me,  I can’t help but wonder why the sudden and mysterious deluge of response.


Ian SommerhalderOur site traffic reveals that a single tweet from Ian Somerhalder made all the difference, bringing Tony’s cause a windfall of sudden exposure.

Somerhalder is an ABC superstar. As his Twitter profile explains (in 160 characters or less), he was once the “Dead guy on LOST now undead on The Vampire Diaries.” He’s also an environmental and animal advocate starting the Ian Somerhalder Foundation in response to the BP oil disaster.

With his huge heart and enormous following, all he had to say was this:

On thanksgiving I’m in a wonderful place but this big guy isn’t. Let’s help him! Not fair”

Calling on his 448,281 followers, more than 22,000 of them read about Tony’s plight over the weekend and more pour in hourly. Some come from Ian’s Twitter feed and some come from unofficial fan sites broadcasting the feed around the world. This is what the numbers look like.


Note: Page hits far exceed petition and letter click-throughs. Tony still needs our help!


We couldn’t be more grateful for Ian’s part in shedding the light on the perils of large, privately owned cats, but neither he nor is responsible for the hard work done every day on Tony’s behalf by Sky WilliamsonDee Desantis, and the long list of people behind the organizations listed below. We have merely been their cheerleaders.

A note from Dee Desantis of Free Tony the Tiger on Facebook reads:

Thanks To All Free Tony The Tiger Friends for your support, participation and commitment to Tony and to the campaign to give Tony the home and life he deserves. It is the collective efforts of everyone that has given Tony a strong voice and made his story known to animal welfare organizations, the media, and to people around the world. With the recent support of the ALDF it is imperative to show our objections to the renewal of the LDWF permit.

These are just some ways you can advocate for Tony:

  • Sign and share Big Cat Rescue’s Action Alert for Tony targeting key decision makers regarding the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries permit to Tiger Truck Stop
  • The Animal Legal Defense Fund joined the fight for Tony on Monday November 22, 2010, and petitioned the Louisiana Department of Wildlife Fisheries urging them not to renew their permit. Your comments at these links are appreciated:


We’ll continue to keep watch for updates and future calls to action if necessary. If you hear anything first, please leave a comment below. Together, we can keep the pressure on. Thanks for reading.