Inspector General of the State of Florida
Via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am filing an official complaint in-regards to Officer Donald Hough with the Florida Fish and Wildlife and the owner of Big Cat Rescue of Tampa Florida for lying on an official law enforcement document that investigated a Cougar Attack at Big Cat Rescue on February 24, 2016.
The victim, Sue Messineo, was seen at the Emergency room and admitted to the Hospital for several days for treatment and observation. The cougar involved in this incident was to be placed in quarantine according to the Health Department records. “Preventative hospital admittance for several days for wound care/prevention received at Oak Hill Hospital, Brooksville, Florida”.
FWCC was notified by John Campbell, State Department of Health/Hernando County Health Department. That report states that FFC doesn’t care and is noted on the report; “FWC DIDN’T CARE” -Only animal bites are reported to a health department and seems awfully strange that this matter wasn’t properly looked into, including speaking with hospital personal and what the actual records show. Animal bites are a public safety issue. It should be noted that Sue Messineo has recently been promoted to ‘Keeper Coordinator’ since this occurrence and her recanting her original information provided to the hospital.
The public needs to know what is really going on at Big Cat Rescue and just how safe this ‘Florida Attraction’ really is for the animals, visitors, neighbors, businesses and the general public as it is reflective of the standards of the state of Florida.
On the official FFC report both the officer and Carole Baskin said it was an accident due to a sharp wire. The officer did not issue a citation for the bite or even the sharp wire which does exist throughout this facility; leaving both people and animals exposed to unsafe conditions from sharp rusting wire. There are signs posted in the facility concerning sharp cage wire and that in and of itself, should have been cited to be corrected immediately.
I believe that you will find that the Health Department is telling the truth along with the hospital.
I not only would like to know why, but demand to know why all of her accidents and continued violations at Big Cat Rescue are always covered up by either the FWC and/or the USDA/APHIS? No citations are ever issued or written for repairs. Inspection reports have been changed/altered to suit Carole Baskin.
All licensees are to be treated fairly and not singled out however, she has changed documents. Baskin is able to have law enforcement always cover up for her and it is time to find out why, how, and immediately corrected! Conditions at Big Cat Rescue are questionable with caging in poor condition, sharp edges on caging and fencing, no or poor drainage in most of the enclosures and more. It should also be noted that there is no evacuation plan in place for Big Cat Rescue and should be of concern considering the weather threats in Florida and the condition of the caging.
Last year Carole Baskin placed leopards in an unapproved open top cage. She was caught through her on-line posts yet no citation was ever written. This would have been a critical with any other licensee. By placing those cats in that enclosure she put the staff and the general public in possible harms way. She had written for a variance to be able to use the enclosure for leopards months earlier and then lied to FFC officers stating she didn’t know it needed to be approved or that it is addressed in the regulations; leopards have never been allowed in open top cages without a variance; it has always been in the regulations. It is required that all licensees review and be aware of all laws concerning their ownership of those kinds of animals. After my filing a complaint about releasing leopards into the unapproved enclosure on at least two separate occasions, Baskin complained to Capt Hooker about me directly yet recently, Capt Hooker responded to me saying that she had never heard of me. I was mentioned in several correspondences between Hooker and Baskin. My complaints are not about me; they are about what is really going on at Big Cat Rescue and concern.
I believe that you will find that the hospital and the Health Department reports are conflicting to the FFC investigation report filed by Officer Donald Hough. No one is admitted for treatment and observation for a number of days for a cut from a cage wire.
Below you will find my letter previously sent over the weekend complaining about this occurrence; I have also cc’d this correspondence to David Michaels with OSHA, Dr. Goldentyer with USDA/APHIS and Major Curtis Brown with FFC.
I would appreciate a response and please assign this a case number so I will be able to track it.
This is extremely important to me and I appreciate your time and effort to look into this matter to see that the regulations are properly followed by both licensees and your inspectors.
Assistant Secretary U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Ave.
Washington, DC 20210
Via e-mail: PublicMichaelsDavid@dol.gov
DVM Eastern Regional Director U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Animal Care
Via e-mail: email@example.com
Major Curtis Brown
FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
Farris Bryant Building
620 South Meridian St
Tallahassee, FL 32399
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: URGENT REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION OF BIG CAT RESCUE
Dear Secretary Michaels and Dr. Goldentyer, and Major Brown :
I am requesting immediate inspection and imposition of appropriate enforcement action and penalties against Big Cat Rescue, AWA license no. 58-C-0814, in connection with an incident of a cougar bite that went by un-reported although, it resulted in the hospitalization of a volunteer. When first admitted to the hospital, Sue Messineo, Keeper Coordinator at Big Cat Rescue, said that she had been bit by the cougar yet later recanted her story to say that she was injured on the cage structure. Either way, had regulations been properly enforced, no incident would have occurred. Carole Baskin, CEO for BCR claimed she knew nothing of the incident but should be held liable that it occurred. The claim of a manufacture defect can be easily rectified by grinding off any rough edges to prevent injury to people and the animals exposed to it as I have done with all my equipment.
This incident is the latest of numerous incidents involving volunteers or employees of Big Cat Rescue (BCR) AKA-Wildlife on Easy Street, that remains a 501-C-3 facility owned by Carole Baskin.
Housing dangerous wild animals, appears to implicate the following federal laws and regulations:
The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), 29 U.S.C. § 654 (a)(1); and the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations including: o 9 C.F.R. § 2.131 (a), (b), (c), and (d), relating to adequately trained employees and safe handling; and o 9 C.F.R. § 3.132, relating to adequately trained employees and acceptable husbandry practices.
As long as employees work in dangerously close proximity to apex predators, a significant risk of serious injury or death can persist when regulations are not adhered to properly or enforced. Indeed, OSHA has recognized that the issue of workers exposed to large animals is a serious occupational health and safety concern.
See SeaWorld of Florida LLC –BNA OSHC — , at 41-42 (No. 10-1705, 2012) (ALJ) (affirming SeaWorld’s violation of the OSH Act’s general duty clause in the death of Dawn Brancheau, who was killed while working in direct contact with an orca, and finding that “[p]roximity to the killer whales is the factor that determines the risk to the trainers.”).
The general duty clause requires employers to furnish employees with an environment and workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to [its] employees.”
29 U.S.C. § 654 (a)(1). An employer is liable for a recognized hazard that is likely to cause serious physical harm or death unless there were “no feasible means to eliminate or materially reduce the hazard.” Fabi Constr. Co. v. Sec’y of Labor, 508 F.3d 1077, 1081 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted).
I have filed several complaints concerning BCR and repeatedly requested that the USDA impose specific standards to prevent these sorts of preventable incidents and tragedies from occurring there. No citations or corrections have been noted on inspection.
It is imperative that the USDA, OSHA and FFC take all preventive steps necessary to curtail these risks.
OSHA has recommend that exhibitors adhere to safety standards prescribed by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) as a recommended method of abatement in order to prevent such unsafe conditions, attacks, and fatalities.
Big Cat Rescue is a GFAS facility with unsafe practices and caging that has demonstrated numerous incidents over the years (see reports on Wildlife on Easy Street-Carole Baskin, CEO).
I have yet to see a proper or meaningful inspection, investigation and/or any citations written to BCR. BCR is NOT representative of high safety standards as an example for the entire industry. GFAS facilities are NOT without incident.
I am requesting that the USDA, OSHA and FFC take meaningful and proper enforcement action against Big Cat Rescue to ensure that no further preventable incident or tragedy occurs at BCR.
Please assign corresponding complaint numbers to this correspondence and advise me what those complaint numbers are via e-mail at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Thank you for your attention in a matter that is extremely important to me.