- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The DeSoto Parish district attorney has dropped a criminal misdemeanor charge accusing a sanctuary in Frierson of housing big cats without a state permit. And a judge in Baton Rouge has consolidated the sanctuary’s challenge to a state big cat law with a similar lawsuit filed by the owner of a truck stop outside Baton Rouge.

“We’ve spent lots of manpower and dollars on a case in which basically we don’t have a dog in the fight,” District Attorney Richard Johnson said Wednesday. If the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has a problem with the Yogie and Friends, the department should deal with it, he said.

“We don’t think there are any problems that create a public safety concern,” Johnson added.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Daniel said Wednesday afternoon that the charge had been dropped.

Maria Davidson, head of the department’s Fur and Refuge Division, said she doesn’t know what the state will do. She said she can’t comment further because of pending litigation.

Yogie and Friends - which has three aging tigers, four elderly lions, three servals and a bobcat in rural DeSoto Parish - could have been fined up to $500 if found guilty. Earlier this month, a DeSoto Parish judge told parish prosecutors that he had no authority to hold a hearing about allegations that the place is unsafe and the animals should be sent elsewhere.

On Monday, Yogie and Friends founder Jenny Senier’s lawsuit was consolidated with an older challenge filed by Tiger Truck Stop, where Tony the tiger lives in Grosse Tete, attorney Jennifer Treadway Nixon said Tuesday evening.

Yogie and Friends, which cares for rescued animals, has nearly depleted its resources to meet new state requirements for fences and dens, Senier said Wednesday.

“We had like $14,000 in the bank. Now we have like $1,000,” she said. She said most of that bought fencing, concrete and cement, and paid a fencing specialist who made some extra connections even though he said the fences already met industry standard.

“It’s never going to look pretty. But it’s clean and it’s safe. I don’t know what else to do,” she said.


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