SHERWOOD, Ore. -- The WildCat Haven animal sanctuary was fined $5,600 for safety violations after a woman who worked there was killed last year by at least one cougar.
Renee Radziwon Chapman was attempting to clean a cage at the sanctuary when she was attacked on Nov. 9, 2013. She was working alone at the facility.
Background: Woman killed by cougar at Sherwood sanctuary
The sanctuary violated its two-person safety protocol and the cage latches did not fully secure the cougars, according to the results of an Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation.
Sadly, as is so often the case, this workplace tragedy may have been prevented if the employer had followed and enforced its own guidelines when employees entered the cougar enclosures, said OSHA spokesman Michael Wood.
WildCat Haven was fined $2,800 for violating the two-person rule, and another $2,800 for inadequate latch design on the cages.
In order to fully secure the latch, keepers were required to enter the cage and attach a carabiner onto the latch s lock fitting, Wood said. The enclosure itself was also poorly designed with no separate entry door.
Both of the issues mentioned in the citations have already been addressed, said WildCat Haven spokesman Ken Hick in a statement Monday. We continue to work closely with OR-OSHA to review the agency s findings as part of our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure work environment.
As an employer, we are ultimately responsible to protect the life, safety and health of our staff and volunteers, he added. Because of the hazards of providing sanctuary to wild animals that are both compelling and unpredictable, our greatest priority is to develop and ensure compliance with fail-proof safety procedures.
The sanctuary has 30 days to appeal the OSHA decision, Wood said.