Zoo Wars -Exotic Feline Rescue Center Fined $65K


Indiana animal refuge center fined $69K for safety violations found in wake of woman’s mauling

Workplace-safety regulators have fined a western Indiana animal refuge $69,000 for safety violations discovered after a tiger mauled a woman at the center in June.

Investigators with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration found dangerous conditions at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center the agency said were “likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. The agency fined the center $56,000 for “knowing” violations and another $13,000 for “serious” violations, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1cF1Meq ).

IOSHA cited concerns with fence height, gaps in the cages and the operation of sliding gates at the refuge that houses 220 cats, mostly tigers but also lions, pumas, cougars and other exotic felines.

Owner Joe Taft, who started the animal rescue center in 1991 with just three big cats, said he stands by the safety of the center and the care it provides to unwanted and rescued exotic felines.

“In our 23-year history, we have never had a problem. Our fences are compliant with federal regulations and if you have ever been here, it should be apparent that there is no danger,” he said Tuesday. “All of our employees feel safe here, even the young lady who was hurt last summer, who has been back working for quite some time.”

Marissa Dub suffered severe head, neck and vocal cord injuries in the June 21 attack at the animal refuge near Center Point about 60 miles southwest of Indianapolis. That attack occurred after she failed to secure a sliding cage gate.

Taft said the center employs 12 people who feed the cats, administer medications and clean out cages. He has 15 working days to seek a meeting with IOSHA officials to review the safety orders issued and compromise on how to alleviate those concerns.

Taft said it costs about $3,000 per year to care for each cat and the center’s annual budget is about $700,000. He said he’s worried the fines will put the animals and the center in jeopardy.

“We think the quality and caliber of work we do here is high. We are disappointed by this response from the state,” Taft said.

IOSHA spokesman Bob Dittmer said the agency does not routinely inspect workplaces unless there is a safety complaint or an incident that results in injury or death. He had no record of any past investigations at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issues permits and licenses for exotic animal possession and launched an investigation at the center after the June tiger attack. The results of its inquiry have not been released.



Feline Rescue Faces Large Fines

A Wabash Valley exotic animal resuce is being forced to shell out tens of thousands of dollars after a safety inspection.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as I-OSHA, investigated the center after a tiger attacked a worker in June.
Now they’re facing a $69,000 fine.

“Devastate it,” is what Exotic Feline Rescue Director, Joe Taft said the fines would do to the center.

A $69,000 fine is nearly one-tenth of the yearly budget for Center Point’s Exotic Feline Rescue Center.

“We do this on a really shoe string budget. Pretty much every cent we take in goes directly to the cats. I shouldn’t say pretty much, every cent we take in goes directly to the cats,” Taft said.

Taft says his budget is just $700,000 a year. That comes to about $3,000 a year for each cat. He says other rescues and zoos operate with a $10,000 to $15,000 for each cat a year.

“It has the potential to cost several animals their lives”, said Taft.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the rescue after a tiger attacked a worker on June 21, 2013. Marissa Dub didn’t close a gate all the way. That’s when a tiger attacked causing severe head and neck injuries. Dub has since returned to work. IOSHA charged $28,000 worth of fines for that incident.

“We have been here for 23 years. We have had in that time, the incident in June, was the only serious accident we’ve had here,” said Taft.

Other violations found in the report include not providing water for workers, not keeping logs required by IOSHA for injured employees, lack of protective equipment and not conducting a hazard assessment. Taft sees some of these violations as minimal, but knows the safety of his workers comes first.

“We will be attempting to work closely with OSHA on areas that they find are a concern and we will try to satisfy their concerns”, said Taft.

The center is the second largest of it’s kind in the nation. If it closes, there may be no where else for these animals to go.

“If we’re not open, these cats die That’s not an option for us,” Taft said.

The rescue gets most of their income from visitors. They charge $10 per adult for guided tours through the facility.


Would you still want to go there after being sited for safety violations?!? Why are these sanctuaries even open to the public?!? They want to be involved with rescue then do it right and we wouldn’t have a problem with you Mr. Taft…Oh  and now using this to collect more donations?!? SERIOUSLY?!?

Links of interest:




Disclaimer connected to this blog…Things said are of my opinion and the opinion of others…Stay tuned  -B

~ by topcatsroar on November 20, 2013.

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