News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 19, 2013

Exotic Feline Rescue Center hit with fine

IOSHA levels $69K penalty for violations after summer mauling

CENTER POINT — Workplace-safety regulators have fined a Clay County 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 Bloomington Herald-Times reported.

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. 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.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: Gaza City Shelling Attack 45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon Wisc. Twins Celebrate a Century of Laughter Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast
NDN Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News