Thursday , February 22 2024

Legal Battle Ends, New Chapter Begins for Cat Haven

The legal wrangling comes to an end over a deadly mauling at a local animal sanctuary.

Back in 2013 a volunteer was mauled to death by a lion at Project Survival Cat Haven. It’s located in Dunlap on Highway 180 east of Fresno.

The death was investigated by local, state and federal agencies.

A legal agreement was reached this month between Cal OSHA and Cat Haven. After the deadly accident, Cat Haven reviewed their procedures to prevent this from happening again. And CAL OSHA signed off on the safety protocol in court.

Now the Cat Haven is focusing on the future.

Two-month old jaguar cubs ‘Nacho’ AND ‘Libre’ are the latest additions to Project Survival Cat Haven IN Dunlap. They were bred at the facility.

"To me this is a very interesting cat because it’s an American cat. Used to live in California. The last one was killed about 1860 in California," said Dale Anderson, founder of the Cat Haven.

They join dozens of exotic cats, including tigers, cheetahs, leopards and lions at the sanctuary east of Fresno.
For the past 22 months, the founders of Cat Haven have worked with local, state and federal agencies reviewing safety protocol.
That review followed the death of intern Dianna Hansen. She was mauled to death by a lion in March 2013.
Investigators found that Dianna left a door to the lion’s pen open when she went into the enclosure to clean it. A tragic accident.

"It was an accident and there was nothing you could do to change an accident. And we went through and reviewed things on our own and then came up with some measures we thought would be helpful," Anderson said.

Cal OSHA had recommendations of their own. The two sides went to court. And Anderson says Cal OSHA signed off on the additions Cat Haven had put in place.

"There was nothing that was added to what goes on other than we added one additional lock on the main enclosure and we enacted some procedures ourselves to have keepers do instead of one check, do three checks before they enter the main enclosure," Anderson said

A group called the animal legal defense fund says they played a role in the agreement by pushing for a locked door for the animals.

"Usually you think of a door or barrier with a lock on it so animal can’t push through it," said Chris Berry, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Anderson says that was already in place when the accident happened.

"We had locks on the doors, we had barriers between cats and keepers, cats were shifted into their den areas then shifted out," Anderson said.

We contacted Cal OSHA for a comment, but no one from the agency was available.

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