Heat Stroke



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If it is very hot and the cat is panting take a close look in his mouth. If the tongue is red and the cat is drooling he may be suffering from heat stroke. Cats cool themselves by increasing the air over their tongues and by salivating on their fur to cause evaporation. When the cat’s body temperature goes over 106 degrees he may stagger, vomit and produce bloody diarrhea. His lips will turn blue or grey before digressing into a coma.


Mild cases require only that the cat be moved to a cooler area and given water, but if his temperature has exceeded 104 degrees then you should cool him by immersing him in cool water or wrap him in cold wet towels. If the cat is near collapse a cool water enema will help speed the cooling. Cats who suffer from upper respiratory problems are quicker to succumb to heat stroke and one of the results of overheating is that the throat swells, compounding the problem for a cat whose breathing is already impaired.



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Note: I am not a veterinarian. If your exotic cat has suffered a heat stroke please consult a licensed veterinarian.






Rule # 1 : STAY CALM . Detach yourself from the drama and become the hired professional brought in to remedy the situation. Your mind is more complex (and more easily accessible) than any computer. Everything you have ever learned is right there and available to you, but you must be in a clear state of mind to recall the needed information. Running in circles and causing a big commotion won’t help the animal in need. Because this is an Emergency, you need to think fast, but with the emphasis being on the word THINK.

One of my favorite clichés is “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” Long before you ever need it, you should stock a portable case with supplies:

Bandages Thermometer Alcohol Peroxide Panalog
Granuladerm Cotton balls Sterile pads Tweezers Scissors
Panalog Tape Razor Muzzel Pen Light Sterile gloves
Tranquilizers Cat sack I.V. Fluids Hypodermics Needles
Pill Gun Surgical Soap Charcoal Kaopectate Milk Magnesia
Mineral Oil Metamucil Splints Eyedropper Iodine

Update any perishable items regularly. We have a designated area where we store emergency equipment. As soon as we are finished using an item, we return it to it’s place so that in the event of an emergency it will be there. These items should include:

Heavy Leather Gloves Nets Noose Snares
Pet Carriers / Cages Tranquilizer gun & darts Blankets
Veterinarian’s Phone # Alternate Vet’s Phone # Medicine chest

You may wish to laminate certain portions of the Emergency Procedures and keep them in your medicine chest. In the event that you are away and have someone taking care of your animals, it is imperative that clear and concise information is available for all aspects of their care.

xrayofcatOur Cat Hospital is not only a convenience but has saved crucial life or death moments. If at all practical, and absolutely if you have more than a few animals, you should prepare an area that can be kept warm and clean and always ready for use. It should be a quiet area because any animal who survives an emergency will need days or weeks of quiet, stress free, recovery and will probably require the use of much of your emergency equipment. If the emergency was an injury, then the hurt cat can share the hospital with other cats, but if the cat ails from some virus or contagious disease, then it should be isolated to the point of not even sharing the same air system with other animals.

Our Cat Hospital is climatically controlled because an injured or ill cat often cannot maintain it’s 101 degree body heat and we have found that seriously sick cats prefer the warmth. The building is a well insulated, metal building that we converted to add a sink with hot and cold running water, vinyl flooring, washable walls, a range, refrigerator, microwave, and tables that fold up flat against the walls when not in use. All items stored on the shelves should be behind doors and your drugs should be kept locked up. We have several banks of rolling, stainless steel cages, and two sizes of stainless steel squeeze cages. We stock plenty of blankets, paper towels, cases of Lactated Ringers or I. V. fluids, and the drip lines and 18 gauge needles and 20 gauge needles for the small cats. We keep cases of 18 gauge, 20 gauge and 22 gauge needles and cases of 3 cc and 10 cc hypodermic syringes on hand at all times. This is also where we store the sterile gowns, drapes and surgical gloves. Some of the equipment includes a high powered microscope, slides, stethoscope, incubators, hair dryer, heating pads, blender, scales, oxygen tanks and regulators. You may need less or more than what we use depending of the nature of your facility.

We never pay retail for equipment. We have cages that our government paid $30,000.00 for to use in it’s laboratories and we bought them at auction for $300.00. The microscope was a $15,000.00 unit, never used, that we found for $500.00. Human hospitals are always updating their equipment and you can find much of what your animals need in their surplus. If you watch the classifieds in your local paper you can furnish an impressive infirmary for a nominal cost.

Note: Do not attempt to use any of the items listed in this chapter unless you have been guided by your Veterinarian first. You can give a cat too much oxygen or inject them improperly and do more harm than good. Know what you are doing before attempting to administer aid to your cat.

To see how we prepare for a hurricane, click HERE.

How to Load a C02 Powered Dart Rifle

At Big Cat Rescue most of our sedation can be done by hand injection or jab stick, but our vet care staff are trained to use a blow pipe, dart rifle, dart hand gun and more.


Clipping Claws



Big Cat Rescue has evolved since its inception in 1992. By 1997 we had seen enough of the abuse and abandonment caused by the pet trade that we had previously engaged in to know that there was no reason to breed exotic animals for lives in cages. As a result we increased our efforts through spaying, neutering and cage building to ensure that we would no longer be a part of the problem. As we have continued to learn about the causes of so much suffering we have become active in stopping the exotic pet trade through education and legislation.  The following is provided only for those who have already made the mistake of supporting the pet trade so that the animal in your care does not suffer even more after being ripped from his mother.



In 2006 the USDA adopted the Amercian Veterinary Medical Association’s policies and it is illegal to remove the teeth or claws of any exotic carnivore or non human primate.  For more details read the PDFs HERE and HERE.


We have scars and scratches from our fingertips to our elbows and people always assume that it is from dealing with our big cats, but the truth of the matter is that almost all of these wounds are inflicted by cubs under six weeks of age. I have even had people ask if I had been in a wreck recently, during kitten season, due to the condition of my arms and although it is not entirely preventable you can minimize your exposure by taking a few minutes to clip their claws regularly. In thirteen years of clipping claws, I have clipped literally thousands of them and only on three occasions have I hit the little blood vessel that everyone uses as the excuse for why they don’t clip claws. I don’t want to hurt a kitten anymore than you, but if I am going to be able to do my job of raising, bathing and medicating this kitten, then I need to be able to handle him without dropping him.


There is a product available from your Veterinarian called Soft Paws. It is a little gelatin cap that can be temporarily attached to your kitten’s nails. They come in bright neon colors so that you can see at a glance that they are still on. We used them once on an ailing Margay who needed daily handling during his recovery. They worked for a short while and are good for such situations, but they are not the long term answer for the exotic cat.


If you start early enough and do it often enough, it is no big deal for you or the cat. If you got a late start or can’t manage the cat then we would suggest that one person muzzle and hold the cub and the other clip. There are a variety of clippers on the market, but I have found that the easiest to handle are human nail clippers. Finger nail clippers for small cats and Toe nail clippers for larger cats.


If you gently squeeze the paw the nails will extend and you will see that they are hook shaped and have a dark blood vessel extending along the top edge to about half way down. Just clip the tip of the nail off below this line and you and the cat will feel no pain. I just take the very tips off, which means that I have to do it more frequently, but as with most things, I’d rather play it safe than sorry. Unless your kitten is inbred and polydactal, it will have four nails on each rear paw and five nails on each front paw, with the fifth one being in a thumb position and usually the hardest to clip and the first one to snag you. In the unlikely event that you should hit a blood vessel you should have on hand a product such as Quick Stop which is a powder you dip the nail into to stop the bleeding. I have a bottle of the stuff, but have never used it as the three times I did hit blood, there was only a drop and then it stopped on it’s own.


When you have bottle raised a kitten to be gentle and sweet it may be very tempting to reason that since the cub does not extend his claws in play with you that it is unnecessary to clip the nails but failure to do so while he is young will cause you both much more pain when it becomes a necessity later in life. Failure to see to this most necessary procedure when he was young could later even cost him his life in an emergency situation. Cats, like children, put everything they find in their mouths and often something gets stuck, usually across the roof of their mouth, and sometimes in the throat. When your 90 pound Leopard is choking to death, it’s going to take all the courage and love you can muster to stick your hand down his throat and dislodge whatever it is, without having to figure a way past 18 deadly weapons that are all going to be fixed on you. Cats cannot reason, when they are in distress, that you have never hurt them and that you are trying to help. They are instead, terrified and striking out at anything that comes near them and you won’t be much help to the cat if you are bleeding to death.


Don’ t fool yourself by saying “Well my little Bobcat is no bigger than a housecat, so how dangerous could he ever be?” My worst and deepest scars are from my sweetest bobcats, under emergency conditions. Any cat, Ocelots especially, delight in wrapping themselves around the anatomy of their “prey” and rabbit kicking with their back feet. When they do this to each other, in play, no harm is done, but when they wrap around your arm and do the same thing, you will be bleeding from your wrist to your elbow. There is always the possibility of escape and recapture can be nearly impossible if the cat has sharp claws. You may reason that in the event of an escape, the cat will need his claws to survive, but if this is a tame cat, claws or not, it will not be able to survive and if it did manage to kill anything for food it would be your neighbors’ cats and dogs, which is going to bring the whole community down on you and your cats.


We have found that it is not safe to house clawed exotic cats with declawed exotic cats because even play fighting can result in nasty wounds to the declawed animal. When two cats have their claws and are raised together they learn how hard is too hard, but when you begin mixing claws and no claws, all of the rules are different and someone is going to be hurt. We’ve been told countless times that it is okay to house a clawed feline with a declawed one, but we have found that the declawed cat will often suffer a nasty cut, and because we love our cats and know how quickly a small cut can turn into a life or death matter, we do not subscribe to this practice.


We do not believe in removing the canine teeth; not the baby teeth nor the permanent ones. Long ago we made the mistake of having the baby teeth filed down. This is a procedure that just takes the very tip off the extremely sharp fangs. Our reasoning was, that it is easier to train a kitten who does not have those needle like enamels sunk into some portion of our anatomy. The adult teeth are not nearly so sharp and by the time the permanent teeth come in, the cat has learned not to use them on people. The results were heartbreaking and very difficult recognize.


We had brought in a large number of kittens, all at once, from two fur farms to save their little lives. Naturally, they all come in sick and stressed and this adds to all of the problems normally associated with bottle rearing. When they were finally stabilized enough to vaccinate, we had their teeth filed. For the next five months this group was constantly on medication for one ailment or another. All of their ailments reached life threatening proportions, even for otherwise inconsequential attacks. We were all baffled. It seemed like the kittens had no immune system and yet they did not test positive for Feline Leukemia Virus or Feline Infectious Peritonitis or any other immune deficiency. One of the kits had grey teeth canine teeth and we took him in to our Veterinarian to have them removed. He had been very ill and had quit eating unless we cut his food into tiny pieces and hand fed him. We feared that he would not even survive the surgery, but we prayed and left the rest to God and our Veterinarian.


As soon as he came home from having the rotten teeth extracted, he took an immediate turn for the better. That was the last time he was ever sick. Within two days of seeing his dramatic recovery we took all of the cubs and kittens back to the Veterinarian and had their tipped teeth removed. All of them were completely better within two days and none of them has been sick again to this day. For the first seven months of their lives they were knocking at death’s door and the last five months of that was due to something stupid that we had done. Except for the one kit, none of the others showed any sign of the teeth being compromised by the filing. The Veterinarian said that they were decayed when she pulled them out, but it was not apparent by just looking in the mouth. Fortunately these were their baby teeth and their adult teeth are all intact.


Safety Program



Table of Contents



Section I – Management Commitment and Involvement



Section II – Safety and Health Training



Section III – Safety Meetings



Section IV – Safety Committee



Section V – Safety Inspections



Section VI – First Aid Procedures



Section VII – Accident Investigations



Section VIII – Workplace Safety Rules


Section IX – On Property Safety







Tour Guide Procedures Class

Gate Operation, Tour Back Up & Guest Relations Class

Animal Emergency Procedures Class

Human First Aid Procedures Class



Section I.


Management Commitment and Involvement Policy Statement


The management of Big Cat Rescue is committed to providing employees with a safe and healthful workplace.  It is the policy of this organization that employees report unsafe conditions and do not perform work tasks if the work is considered unsafe.  Employees must report all accidents, injuries, and unsafe conditions to their supervisors.  No such report will result in retaliation, penalty, or other disincentive.


Employee recommendations to improve safety and health conditions will be given thorough consideration by the management team.  Management will give top priority to and provide the financial resources for the correction of unsafe conditions.  Violation of workplace safety rules may result in disciplinary action.  This action may include verbal or written reprimands and may result in termination of employment.


The primary responsibility for the coordination, implementation, and maintenance of our Workplace Safety Program has been assigned to the following individual who, in addition to any other title held, will be our Safety Program Coordinator:


Name: Gale Ingham

Title: Operations Manager

Telephone: 813.850.7052


Because we work with dangerous animals, safety is of absolutely paramount concern.  But we must not let our focus on the animals allow us to fail to be aware of the safety issues that arise in any workplace, such as use of tools, equipment, ladders and safety issues inherent in the office environment.  This manual is intended to cover these as well as some of the animal care safety issues that are covered in detail in our training programs.


This policy statement serves to express management’s commitment to and involvement in providing our employees a safe and healthful workplace.  This Workplace Safety Program will be incorporated as the standard of practice for this organization.  Compliance with the safety rules will be required of all employees as a condition of employment.


If at any time you feel that a safety issue you have raised to anyone other than myself has not been promptly or properly addressed, I want you to know that it is part of our policy and the commitment you make in signing this document that you will bring it directly to my attention.


Carole Baskin, Founder and CEO


I have received a copy of this Workplace Safety Program and in signing below I acknowledge that I:

  • have read it completely
  • have understood the contents or have had an opportunity to ask questions and if I have asked questions I have received answers that I understood
  • understand that compliance with these rules and others that I may be informed about from time to time is a condition of employment, and
  • agree to abide by the safety rules of Big Cat Rescue.



___________________________________  ______________

Employee Signature                                        Date




Print Name Legibly

Section II.


Safety and Health Training


Safety and Health Orientation


Workplace safety and health orientation begins on the first day of initial employment or job transfer.  Each employee will be given a personal copy of this Workplace Safety Program containing our workplace safety rules, policies and procedures.  Supervisors will answer the employee’s questions to ensure knowledge and understanding of safety rules, policies, and job-specific procedures described in this manual.


Supervisors will instruct all employees that compliance with the safety rules described in the workplace safety manual is required.


Job Specific Training


  • Supervisors will initially train employees on how to perform assigned job tasks safely.
  • Supervisors will carefully review with each employee the specific safety rules, policies, and procedures that are applicable and that are described in the workplace safety manual.
  • Supervisors will give employees verbal instructions and specific directions on how to do the work safely.
  • Supervisors will observe employees performing the work.  If necessary, the supervisor will provide a demonstration using safe work practices, or remedial instruction to correct training deficiencies before an employee is permitted to do the work without supervision.
  • All employees will receive safe operating instructions on seldom-used or new equipment before using the equipment.
  • Supervisors will review safe work practices with employees before permitting the performance of new, non-routine, or specialized procedures.


Periodic Retraining of Employees


All employees will be retrained when changes are made to the workplace safety manual.


Individual employees will be retrained after the occurrence of a work related injury caused by an unsafe act or work practice, and when a supervisor observes an employee displaying unsafe acts, practices, or behaviors.



Section III.


Safety Meetings


The Safety Coordinator will conduct a monthly safety meeting with the employees covering one or more topics. In addition to the safety topic, supervisors may discuss other items such as recent accidents and injuries, results of safety inspections, and revisions of safety policies and procedures.  Safety Meetings may be part of the monthly Volunteer Meeting so Volunteers obtain the benefit of them as well.


The Safety Coordinator will follow the below plan of action to ensure successful safety meetings are conducted.


  1. Preparing for the Meeting
  • The Safety Coordinator in the course of his duties as Operations Manager will observe and inspect the various areas and work practices and note any unsafe acts being performed or unsafe conditions that need to be corrected.
  • If any unsafe acts or conditions are discovered during the inspections, the Safety Coordinator will select an unsafe act or condition to be used as a Safety Meeting topic for the benefit of all.  A Safety Meeting can help identify and eliminate hazards before accidents occur.


  1. Conduct the Meeting
  • The Safety Coordinator will discuss one topic per meeting unless he feels there are more than one that require attention.
  • Allow employees to discuss why the situation occurs if it has occurred.
  • Reach an agreement with employees on how to eliminate or control the situation if it has occurred.


  1. Keep a Record of the Meeting
  • Documentation will be maintained of each employee safety meeting.  It should contain the subject(s) discussed as well as an attendance sheet.



Section IV.


Safety Committee


Safety Committee Organization


A Safety Committee has been established as a management tool to recommend improvements to our Workplace Safety Program and to identify corrective measures needed to eliminate or control recognized safety and health hazards.  The Safety Committee shall be composed of all of the members of the Volunteer Committee.




The Safety Committee will be responsible for:

  • Assisting management in communicating procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of control measures used to protect employees from safety and health hazards in the workplace.
  • Assisting management in reviewing and updating workplace safety rules based on accident investigation findings, any inspection findings, and employee reports of unsafe conditions or work practices; and accepting and addressing anonymous complaints and suggestions from employees.
  • Assisting management in updating the Workplace Safety Program by evaluating employee injury and accident records, identifying trends and patterns, and formulating corrective measures to prevent recurrence.
  • Assisting management in evaluating employee accident and illness prevention programs, and promoting safety and health awareness and co-worker participation through continuous improvements to the Workplace Safety Program.
  • Participating in safety training and for assisting management in monitoring workplace safety education and training to ensure that it is in place, that it is effective, and that it is documented.





Safety issues will be addressed at the meetings of the Volunteer Committee and the discussions reflected in the notes of the meeting.  If any employee has raised a safety concern to be addressed by the committee, the employee shall be given a response in writing.  If the discussion results in any change in rules or procedures, the Workplace Safety Program shall be revised to reflect these changes and all employees given copies of the revised pages to place in their personal copies of the program.



Section V.


Safety Inspections and Preventative Maintenance


Inspections provide an opportunity to survey the work place to detect potential hazards and correct them before an accident occurs.  Typically, inspections are made to identify physical hazards at the work site, however, the work practices of employees will also be observed during the inspections.  Supervisors and the Safety Coordinator will observe employees to determine if they are performing their jobs in accordance with safe job procedures.  They will also inspect equipment and tools regularly to determine if maintenance is required to keep them in safe operating condition, and arrange for such maintenance if it is determined to be necessary.


Continuous Monitoring


Safety is the responsibility of each and every employee.  Continuous, informal inspections should be conducted by employees, supervisors, and maintenance personnel as part of their regular job responsibilities.  These are the personnel who are most familiar with work site operations and machinery.  Our employees are a valuable source of information on work place hazards and we look to them for assistance in formulating practical workplace controls.


Supervisors must continually monitor their work areas.  On a daily basis they will check that:

  • Employees are following safe work procedures
  • Machinery and tools are in good condition
  • Machine guards are in position
  • Material is stored properly
  • Aisles, walkways, and exit passageways are clear and accessible

Section VI.


First Aid Procedures

Emergency Phone Numbers

Safety Coordinator: 813.850.7052

Founder: 813-493-4564

Ambulance: 911

Walk In Clinic: Fast Track Walk-In Clinic

Phone: 813-925-1903

Address: 11969 Sheldon Rd., Tampa, FL  33626

South of Citrus Park Drive on Westwind

Hospital Emergency Room: Town & Country Hospital

Phone: 813-882-7130

Address: 6001 Webb Road, Tampa, FL 33615

Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

Fire Department: 911

Police: 911


Please Note:

In all cases requiring emergency medical treatment, immediately call, or have a co-worker call, to request medical assistance.


Minor First Aid Treatment

If you sustain an injury or are involved in an accident requiring minor first aid treatment:


  • Inform your supervisor.
  • Administer first aid treatment to the injury or wound.
  • If a first aid kit is used, indicate usage on the accident investigation report.
  • Access to a first aid kit is not intended to be a substitute for medical attention.
  • Provide details for the completion of the accident investigation report.


Non-Emergency Medical Treatment

For non-emergency work-related injuries requiring professional medical assistance.


  • Inform your supervisor.
  • Proceed to the posted medical facility.  Your supervisor will assist with transportation, if necessary.
  • Provide details for the completion of the accident investigation report.
  • Management will report the injury to the insurance company within 24 hours.  Travelers 800-832-7839.


Emergency Medical Treatment

If you sustain a severe injury requiring emergency treatment:


  • Call for help and seek assistance from a co-worker.
  • Request assistance and transportation to the local hospital emergency room or call 911 for an ambulance as appropriate.
  • Provide details for the completion of the accident investigation report.
  • Management will report the injury to the insurance within 24 hours.  Travelers 800-832-7839.


First Aid Training

Each employee will read the Human First Aid Procedures Class attached to this Safety Program and take the class as soon as possible.

Section VII.


Accident Investigation


Accident Investigation Procedures


The supervisor at the location where the accident occurred will perform an accident investigation.  The safety coordinator is responsible for seeing that the accident investigation reports are being filled out completely and that the recommendations generated as a result of the investigation are being addressed.  Supervisors will investigate all accidents resulting in an employee injury using the following investigation procedures.


  • Review the equipment, operations, and processes to gain an understanding of the accident situation.
  • Identify and interview each witness and any other person who might provide clues to the accident’s causes.
  • Investigate causal conditions and unsafe acts; make conclusions based on existing facts.
  • Complete the accident investigation report.
  • Provide recommendations for corrective actions.
  • Implement temporary control measures to prevent any further injuries to employees.
  • Indicate the need for additional or remedial safety training.



Accident investigation reports must be completed and submitted to the safety coordinator within 24 hours of the accident.


Accident Record Keeping Procedures


The safety coordinator will control and maintain all employee accident and injury records.  Records are maintained for a minimum of three (3) years and include:


  • Accident Investigation Reports.
  • Worker’s Compensation First Report of Injury or Illness form.




Section VIII.


Workplace Safety Rules


The safety rules contained on these pages have been prepared to protect you in your daily work.  Employees are to follow these rules, review them often and use good common sense in carrying out assigned duties.


General Employee Work Rules



  • Do not place trash in walkways and passageways.
  • Do not kick objects out of your pathway; pick them up or push them aside and out of the way.
  • Do not throw matches, cigarettes or other smoking materials into trash bins.
  • Do not store or leave items on stairways.
  • Do not block or obstruct stairwells, exits or accesses to safety and emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers or fire alarms.


Ladder and Step Ladder Safety

  • Do not use ladders that have loose rungs, cracked or split side rails, missing rubber foot pads or are otherwise visibly damaged.
  • Keep ladder rungs clean of grease.  Remove build up of material such as plaster, dirt or mud.
  • Secure the ladder in place firmly; have another employee hold it when possible.
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down.


Performing Work from a Ladder

  • One person shall be on the ladder at a time.
  • Face the ladder and do not lean backwards or sideways from the ladder.
  • Do not stand on the top two rungs of any ladder.
  • Do not use a ladder that wobbles or that leans to the left or right.
  • Do not try to ‘walk’ a ladder by rocking it.  Climb down the ladder and then move it.


Office Personnel


Office Safety

  • Store sharp objects such as pens, pencils, letter openers, or scissors in drawers or with the points down in a container.
  • Carry pencils, scissors and other sharp objects with the points down.
  • Do not jump from ramps, platforms, ladders, or step stools.
  • Do not run on stairs or take more than one step at a time.
  • Use the handrails when ascending or descending stairs or ramps.
  • Obey all posted safety and danger signs.


Furniture Use

  • Open one file cabinet drawer at a time.
  • Close drawers and doors immediately after use.
  • Use the handle when closing doors, drawers, and files.
  • Put heavy files in the bottom drawers of file cabinets.
  • Do not tilt the chair you are sitting in on its two back legs.
  • Do not stand on furniture to reach high places.  Use a ladder or step stool to retrieve or store items that are located above your head.


Handling Supplies

  • Do not block your view by carrying large bulky items; use a dolly or hand truck or get assistance from a fellow employee.
  • Cut in the direction away from your body when using knives or cutters.


Equipment Use

  • Use a staple remover, not your fingers, for removing staples.
  • Turn off and unplug machines before adjusting, lubricating, or cleaning them.
  • Do not use fans that have excessive vibration, frayed cords, or missing guards.
  • Turn the power switch of the equipment to ‘off’ when it is not being used.


General Labor Personnel



  • Do not leave loose tools or other items on a ledge or lying around the floor.  Return tools to their storage places after use.
  • Keep walking surfaces of elevated working platforms, such as scaffolds and equipment, clear of tools and materials that are being used.
  • Do not use gasoline for cleaning purposes.
  • Sweep up scraps and debris from wallboard installation such as screws, mesh and tape by using a broom and dust pan.


Lifting Safety

  • Plan the move before lifting; remove obstructions from your chosen pathway.
  • Test the weight of the load before lifting by pushing the load along its resting surface.
  • If the load is too heavy or bulky, use lifting and carrying aids such as hand trucks, dollies, pallet jacks and carts or get assistance from a co-worker.
  • If assistance is required to perform a lift, coordinate and communicate your movements with those of your co-worker.
  • Never lift anything if your hands are greasy or wet.
  • Wear protective gloves approved by your supervisor when lifting objects with sharp corners or jagged edges.
  • Do not lift an object from the floor to a level above your waist in one motion.  Set the load down on a table or bench and then adjust your grip before lifting it higher.


Job Site Safety

  • Do not walk under partially demolished walls or floors.
  • Stop working outdoors and seek shelter during lightning storms.
  • Do not begin working until barricades, warning signs or other protective devices have been installed to isolate the work area.
  • Do not throw away or toss debris outside barricaded areas.
  • Stay clear of all trucks, forklifts, cranes, and other heavy equipment when in operation.
  • Do not approach any heavy equipment until the operator has seen you and has signaled to you that it is safe to approach.
  • Keep shirts on to avoid dehydration and sunburn.


Electrical Safety

  • Assume all electrical wires as live wires.
  • Do not wear watches, rings, or other metallic objects which could act as conductors of electricity around electrical circuits.
  • Wear the dielectric gloves when working on electric current.


Electrical Powered Tools

  • Do not use power equipment or tools on which you have not been trained.
  • Do not carry plugged in equipment or tools with your finger on the switch.
  • Do not leave tools that are ‘on’ unattended.
  • Do not handle or operate electrical tools when your hands are wet or when you are standing on wet floors.
  • Do not operate a power hand tool or portable appliance:
    • That has frayed, worn, cut, improperly spliced, or damaged cord.
    • That has two-pronged adapter or a two-conductor extension cord.
    • If a prong from the three pronged power plug is missing or has been removed.
  • Disconnect the tool from the outlet by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
  • Turn the tool off before plugging or unplugging it.
  • Turn off the electrical tool and unplug it from the outlet before attempting repairs or service work.  Tag the tool “Out of Service.”
  • Do not stand in water or on wet surfaces when operating power hand tools or portable electrical appliances.
  • Never operate electrical equipment barefooted.  Wear rubber soled or insulated work boots.
  • Do not operate a power hand tool or portable appliance while holding a part of the metal casing or while holding the extension cord in your hand.
  • Hold all portable power tools by the plastic handgrips or other nonconductive areas designed for gripping purposes.
  • Do not use electrical tools if its housing is cracked.
  • Do not use electrical tools while working on a metal ladder unless the ladder has rubber feet.


Electrical Cords

  • Keep power cords away from the path of drills and wire soldering and cutting equipment.
  • Do not use cords that have splices, exposed wires or cracked or frayed ends.
  • Do not remove the ground prong from electrical cords.
  • Do not use any adapter such as a cheater plug that eliminates the ground.
  • Do not plug multiple electrical cords into a single outlet.


Power Saws

  • Wear safety goggles, protective gloves, a dust mask, and hearing protection when operating a power saw.
  • Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry.
  • Clean any residue from the blade or cutting head before making a new cut with the power saw.
  • Do not use a power saw that has cracked, broken, or loose guards or other visible damage.
  • Keep your hands away from the exposed blade.
  • Operate the saw at full cutting speed, with a sharp blade, to prevent kickbacks.
  • Do not alter the anti kickback device or blade guard.
  • Do not perform cutting operations with the power saw while standing on a wet or slippery floor.
  • When using the power saw, do not reach across the cutting operation.
  • Cut away from your body and below shoulder level when you are using a power saw.
  • If the saw becomes jammed, turn the power switch off before pulling out the incomplete cut.


Pneumatic Tools

  • Do not point a compressed air hose at bystanders or use it to clean your clothing.
  • Do not use tools that have handles with burrs or cracks.
  • Do not use compressors if their belt guards are missing.  Replace belt guards before use.
  • Turn the tool off and allow it to come to a complete stop before leaving it unattended.
  • Disconnect the tool from the air line before making any adjustments or repairs to the tool.
  • Engage positive locks on hoses and attachments before use.
  • Shut off pressure valve and disconnect air line when not in use.
  • Tag damaged of defective pneumatic tools “Out of Service” to prevent usage of the tool by other employees.


Hand Tool Safety

  • Use tied off containers to keep tools from falling off of elevated work platforms.
  • Do not use a tool if its handle has splinters, burrs, cracks, splits or if the head of the tools is loose.
  • Do not use tools while your hands are oily, greasy or wet.
  • When handing a tool to another person, direct sharp points and cutting edges away from yourself and the other person.
  • Do not carry sharp pointed hand tools such as screwdrivers in your pocket unless the tool or your pocket is sheathed.
  • Do not perform ‘makeshift’ repairs to tools.
  • Do not throw tools from one location to another, from one employee to another, from scaffolds or other elevated platforms.
  • Do not carry tools in your hand when climbing.  Carry tools in tool belts or hoist the tools to the work area with a hand line.
  • Transport hand tools only in toolboxes or tool belts.  Do not carry tools in your clothing.
  • When you are performing electrical work, use the tools with the blue rubber sleeves covering the handle, these are insulated.



  • Keep control of saws by releasing downward pressure at the end of the stroke.
  • Keep your hands and fingers away from the saw blade while you are using the saw.
  • When using a hand saw, hold your panel firmly against the worktable.
  • Do not use a saw that has dull saw blades.
  • Do not carry a saw by the blade.
  • Oil saw blades after each use of the saw.



  • Wear safety glasses or safety goggles when using snips to cut materials such as lath or corner beads.
  • Wear your work gloves when cutting materials with snips.
  • Do not use straight cut snips to cut curves.
  • Keep the blade aligned by tightening the nuts and bolts on the snips.
  • Do not use snips as a hammer, screwdriver, or pry bar.
  • Engage the locking clip on the snips after use.


Toolboxes/ Chest/ Cabinet

  • Tape over or file off sharp edges on toolboxes, chests, or cabinets.
  • Do not stand on toolbox, chest, or cabinet to gain extra height.
  • Lock the wheels on large toolboxes, chest, and cabinets to prevent from rolling.
  • Push large toolboxes, chest and cabinets; do not pull.
  • Do not open more than 1 drawer of a toolbox at a time.
  • Close and lock all drawers and doors before moving the toolbox to a new location.
  • Do not use toolbox or chest as a workbench.
  • Do not move a toolbox, chest or cabinet if it has loose parts or parts on the top.


Knives/ Sharp Instruments

  • When handling knife blades and other cutting tools, direct sharp points and edges away from you.
  • Always cut in the direction away from your body when using knives.
  • Carry all sharp tools in a sheath or holster.  Stores knives in knife blocks or in sheaths after using them.
  • Use the knife that has been sharpened; do not use knives that have dull blades.
  • Do not use knives as screwdrivers.
  • Do not pick up knives by their blades.
  • Carry knives with tips pointed towards the floor.


Forklift Safety Rules

  • Do not exceed the lift capacity of the forklift.  Read the lift capacity plate on the forklift if you are unsure.
  • Follow the manufacturer guidelines concerning changes in the lift capacity before adding an attachment, such as wedges, to a forklift.
  • Lift the load an inch or two to test for stability: if the rear wheels are not in firm contact with the floor, take a lighter load or use a forklift with a higher lift capacity.
  • Do not raise or lower a load while you are en-route.  Wait until you are in the loading area and have stopped before raising or lowering the load.
  • After picking up a load, adjust the forks so that the load is tilted slightly backward for added stability.
  • Drive with the load at a ground clearance height of 4-6 inches at the tips and 2 inches at the heels in order to clear most uneven surfaces and debris.
  • Drive at a walking pace and apply brakes slowly to stop when driving on slippery surfaces such as icy or wet floors.
  • Do not drive over objects in your pathway.
  • Steer wide when making turns.
  • Do not drive up to anyone standing or working in front of a fixed object such as a wall.
  • Do not drive along the edge of an unguarded elevated surface such as a loading dock or staging platform.
  • Obey all traffic rules and signs.
  • Sound horn when approaching blind corners, doorways, or aisles to alert other operators and pedestrians.
  • Do not exceed a safe working speed of five miles per hour.  Slow down in congested areas.
  • Stay a minimum distance of three truck lengths from other operating mobile equipment.
  • Drive in reverse and use a signal person when your vision is blocked by the load.
  • Look in the direction that you are driving; proceed when you have a clear path.
  • Drive loaded forklifts forward up ramps.
  • Raise the forks an additional two inches to avoid hitting or scraping the ramp surface as you approach the ramp.
  • Drive loaded forklifts in reverse when driving down a ramp.
  • Drive unloaded forklifts in reverse going up a ramp and forward going down a ramp.
  • Do not attempt to turn around on a ramp.
  • Do not use ‘reverse’ to brake.
  • Lower the mast completely, turn off the engine and set the parking brake before leaving your forklift.


Loading Docks

  • Keep the forklift clear of the dock edge while vehicles are backing up to the dock.
  • Do not begin loading or unloading until the supply truck has come to a complete stop, the engine has been turned off, the dock lock has been engaged and the wheels have been locked.
  • Attach the bridge or dock plate before driving the forklift into the truck.
  • Do not drive the forklift into a truck bed that has soft or loose decking or other unstable flooring.
  • Drive straight across the bridge plates when entering or exiting the trailer.
  • Use dock lights or headlights when working in a dark trailer.


Warehouse Safety



  • When manually stocking shelves, position the materials to be shelved slightly in front of you so you do not have to twist when lifting and stacking materials.
  • Visually inspect for sharp objects or other hazards before putting hands, legs or other body parts into containers such as garbage cans, boxes, bags, or sinks.
  • Remove or bend nails and staples from crates before unpacking.
  • When cutting shrink-wrap with a blade, always cut away from you and your co-workers.
  • Do not try to kick objects out of pathways.  Push or carry them out of the way.
  • Do not let items overhang from shelves into walkways.
  • Move slowly when approaching blind corners.
  • Remove one object at a time from shelves.
  • Place items on shelves so that they lie flat and do not lean against each other.


Hand Truck Operations

  • Tip the load slightly forward so that the tongue of the hand truck goes under the load.
  • Push the tongue of the hand truck all the way under the load to be moved.
  • Keep the center of gravity of the load as low as possible by placing heavier objects below the lighter objects.
  • When loading hand trucks, keep your feet clear of the wheels.
  • Push the load so that the weight will be carried by the axle and not the handles.
  • Place the load so that it will not slip, shift or fall.  Use straps, if provided, to secure the load.
  • If your view is obstructed, use a spotter to assist in guiding the load.
  • For extremely bulky or pressurized items such as gas cylinders, strap or chain the items to the hand truck.
  • Do not walk backward with the hand truck, unless going up stairs or ramps.
  • When going down an incline, keep the hand truck in front of you so that it can be controlled at all times.
  • Move hand trucks at a walking pace.
  • Store hand trucks with the tongue under a pallet, shelf, or table.
  • Do not exceed the manufacturer’s load rated capacity.  Read the capacity plate on the hand truck if you are unsure.


Pallet Jack Use

  • Only employer authorized personnel may operate pallet jacks.
  • Do not exceed the manufacturer’s load rated capacity.  Read the lift capacity plate on the pallet jack if you are unsure.
  • Do not ride on pallet jacks.
  • Start and stop gradually to prevent the load from slipping.
  • Pull manual pallet jacks; push when going down an incline or passing close to walls or obstacles.
  • If your view is obstructed, use a spotter to assist in guiding the load.
  • Stop the pallet jack if anyone gets in your way.
  • Do not place your feet under the pallet jack when it is moving.
  • Keep your feet and other body parts clear of pallet before releasing the load.


Storeroom/ Stockroom

  • Use long handled snips when cutting strapping bands away from a shipping container.
  • Wear safety glasses when cutting strapping bands, uncrating materials and driving nails.
  • Stand to the side of the strapping band when cutting it.
  • Do not use pallets or skids that are cracked or split or have other visible damage.
  • Stack heavy or bulky storage containers on middle and lower shelves of the storage rack.
  • Do not lift slippery or wet objects; use a hand truck.
  • Follow the safe handling instructions listed on the label of the container or listed on the corresponding Material Safety Data Sheet when handling each chemical stored in the stockroom.
  • Do not smoke while handling chemicals labeled flammable.
  • Do not store chemicals labeled flammable near sources of ignition such as space heaters and sparking tools.
  • Do not handle or load any containers of chemicals if their containers are cracked or leaking.
  • Do not leave pallet jack unattended with the load suspended.
  • Obey all safety and danger signs posted in the workplace.



  • Do not exceed the rated load capacity noted on the manufacturer’s label on the cart.
  • Use a spotter to help guide carts around corners and through narrow aisles.
  • Do not stand on a cart or use it as a work platform.



Section IX.


On Property Safety



  • At no time, under any circumstances, will any part of your person come into direct contact with any animal at Big Cat Rescue unless under direct instruction and supervision of at least two of the following: The Founder, the President, the Operations Manager or the Attending Veterinarian.
  • An approved radio must be carried on your person at all times while on the property.  You are responsible for keeping the radio in good working order.
  • No running or horseplay on the property.
  • Smoking is permitted in designated “smoking areas” only.
  • Absolutely no alcohol or drugs are allowed on the property at any time.  No person shall enter the premises for eight hours after having consumed any alcoholic beverage or narcotics.  Any person believed to be impaired due to alcohol or drugs will be removed from the property.


Property Access:

  • Do not operate the front gate nor allow access to the property to anyone with out proper training.  If you do not recognize someone on the property, as a volunteer or staff member, politely ask if you can help him or her.  Explain that they must be escorted by a volunteer or staff member.  Lead them to the guest sign in and alert a Coordinator, Staff or Committee Member.
  • No person shall enter the property without having completed a “Release & Hold Harmless Agreement”.
  • If you have been entrusted with the gate code or keys, do not share these with anyone.
  • Make sure the gate is completely shut behind you as you enter and exit the property.
  • Employee parking is located in between the Food Prep and the cell tower for Keepers and between the white fence and the mobile home in the parking lot for Partners.
  • Easy Street is a privately owned road (not by Big Cat Rescue) and the people that live on the road are not affiliated with Big Cat Rescue.  It is very important that we respect these people and drive no faster than 10 mph as well as yield to outbound traffic.


Safety Classes:

  • Follow all rules in the Tour Guide Procedures Class and Gate Operation, Tour Back Up & Guest Relations Class attached to this Safety Program.  Take these volunteer classes as soon as possible after employment.
  • If you also volunteer at Big Cat Rescue, it is your responsibility to take the appropriate volunteer classes related to activities you engage in as a Volunteer and follow the rules contained therein and any other rules provided to you verbally or in writing separately from those classes.



Sanctuary Master Plan

Sanctuary Master Plan

You have to start with the end in mind…

…and then start taking steps, no matter how small, each and every day toward that goal.


Big Cat Rescue has enjoyed spectacular success in every aspect of the sanctuary world. From the most well trained and dedicated staff and volunteers to having several years worth of reserves set aside in case of a global market crash; this 20 year old sanctuary has been a working model for other animal rescue groups. Big Cat Rescue freely shares our resources and lessons learned by providing:


1. On site workshops and Internet webinars

2. Private consulting and group consultations for sanctuary founders, leaders, board members and volunteers

3. Shared intranet websites with all of the training tools used by Big Cat Rescue for volunteer management and administrative needs

4. Field trips to other facilities to share ideas and in some cases to help with disasters or renovations

5. All of our policies, manual, training videos and vendors


BUT, what most people have been asking for has not been found in all of the above assets. What most people seem to be asking for is a step by step guide to get them from where they are to where they want to be.

The intent is to spend a lot more time detailing this, but here is a brief overview:


1. Figure out what your end goal is and write it down.

2. Ask yourself why and be honest. If you want to alleviate animal suffering there are much better ways to do that than starting a sanctuary. If I knew then, what I know now, I would not have started a sanctuary but would have skipped right to the actions that can save the most lives in the quickest time. Changing hearts and laws are the greatest impact you can make and you can’t do it if you are having to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide sanctuary for a handful of animals.

3. Assuming you already have a whole bunch of animals depending on you or you feel that running a sanctuary is what you were made for, then look at your end goal and write down steps that you would have to take to get there. I did this on my Honeymoon in 2005. My goal was to end the need for big cat sanctuaries by doing the things that would result in big cats NOT being abused and discarded in the first place. I figured it could be done in 25 years and started with the year 2030 and worked my way back to the present day, year by year, trying to realistically calculate the measures that would have to be implemented to get us there. You will have to adjust your plan every year, but you have to have a written plan if you are ever going to get to your goal.

4. If you are thinking that you want to start a sanctuary because you love working with animals, then you don’t want to run a sanctuary. Running a sanctuary is all about fundraising, political involvement, managing staff and volunteers, and being the one to make the heart wrenching decisions of deciding who can be rescued, who cannot, and how to deal with medical decisions in such a way that it is always the animal’s quality of life that is directing the decision and not your personal attachment, or that of someone in your group. I have never seen a successful sanctuary where all of those non animal issues were handled by staff while the founder got to play with animals all day.

5. Making money is always the big question that people are really asking when they ask how to start a sanctuary. No one really expects to be paid well in this industry, but anyone who has animals to feed is trying to figure out how to raise the funds necessary to do it.

a. Forget grants. Even if you turn out to be a GREAT grant writer, you are only going to raise a tiny percentage (less than 10%) via grants and even those are probably not because of your writing skills, but because the person in charge of the grant happens to love your mission.

b. Fundraisers and galas. All animal organizations do them, but they are a huge drain on your time and resources. Our biggest fundraiser of the year is The Fur Ball and it nets 80,000 to 110,000 per year, but that is out of the 1.5 million that is necessary to run Big Cat Rescue each year. It takes our staff 8 months or more to plan and all of our 100+ volunteers to pull it off. In 2010 and 2011 we decided not to even do it because we wanted to focus on ending the abuses that cause so many big cats to be bred, used, abused and discarded. 80k might sound pretty good, but it was only that much because of the name and following that we have built up that it brings in that much.

c. Rescues don’t generate lifetime care. Too many sanctuaries discover that the public loves to get involved in a rescue but the money raised is rarely enough to build the cage and get the animal to you. Then the animal can live another 20 years in the case of a wild cat, or 80 years in the case of some birds or primates. Don’t fall into the trap of rescuing animals to raise money or your whole house of cards will fold in no time flat.

d. Low hanging fruit. My husband, Howard Baskin, is a Harvard MBA and joined us in 2003 at Big Cat Rescue. The first low hanging fruit that he saw was tour revenue. Some sanctuary founders resist the idea of having guided tours but this is how you will educate the public and raise the money you need to feed the animals. Tour revenue pays all of our administrative costs and provides about 1/3 of the sanctuary’s income. The added benefit is that if you raise all of your administrative costs via earned income, such as tour revenue, your donors have the satisfaction of knowing that 100% of their other donations actually goes to the animals.

It is during the time you spend educating your tour guests about how your animals arrived, the plight they face in the wild and in captivity, and what they can do to help that you will build the relationships necessary to ensure the sanctuary’s success.

This is where all of the other assets on this site and in the google sites created using the Sanctuary Template come into play. You must have good policies in place on how you get animals. You can’t buy, breed, sell, trade, nor allow those who do to use you as a constant dumping ground if you want the public to help. The public wants to know that they are supporting a good place that isn’t adding to the problem. Usually the breeders and dealers are just trying to unload cubs that have outlived their 4 week shelf life so that they don’t have to feed them any more. In Big Cat Rescue’s Acquisition Policy we require that anyone who is looking to dump an exotic cat must contract with us to never possess or even pose with another exotic cat. Become accredited so that donor’s know you are behaving responsibly and are being monitored by an outside organization.

d. Keep costs low. Nothing ever goes to waste around here. We recycle everything. In the first eleven years of the sanctuary we never came close to breaking even. We usually were in the red from 100,000 to 365,000 which meant I had to donate that much each year from my small real estate business in order to keep the animals fed, the three staff paid and the rest of the bills paid. Going in debt has never been an option. I wouldn’t be able to sleep nights if I owed someone money. In the past when people asked me how to start a sanctuary I would usually tell them to go find a way to make a lot more money than they need so they can donate it to their passion of helping animals. No one wants to hear that. They want me to tell them how to make money working with animals so that’s what I will try to do here, but I really believe that my real estate business’ success gave us a head start that would be very hard to reproduce. I had built that business for 12 years, working 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year so it was strong enough to carry me through the first 11 years of the sanctuary work.

Salaries are the biggest expense for most sanctuaries. I’ve never taken one from the sanctuary but if you don’t have an outside business or job to support you; that’s probably going to be the first drain on resources. The first person I hired was someone to manage volunteers. One person can manage about 100 volunteers and our volunteers are required to put in minimum weekly hours in order to maintain varying levels of responsibility and privileges. See all of our training documents and processes for those details. Volunteers and interns are a LOT of work but the payoff is far more staff than your budget would allow and the fact that people who are doing this stuff for free are doing it because their hearts are in the right place.

The more volunteers you train AND retain, the more tours you can do, the more outreach programs you can do, the more PR and public awareness you can raise and ultimately that means the higher quality of care you can give the animals. For these people to be proud of your sanctuary, you have to be open, honest and acting with the utmost integrity. You have to let them know how important they are to your mission and they have to be on board with where you are ultimately going.

Big Cat Rescue evolved over the years as we learned that there are no legitimate breeding or reintroduction programs for captive held big cats. We learned that you can’t convince someone that an exotic cat isn’t a good pet if you are showing off photos of yourself petting one. We figured out that you can’t mind your own business, take care of your animals and not get involved when you find out about wild cats being bred as photo or petting props. As we learned these lessons in the early years of the sanctuary, there were a lot of volunteers and staff who did not agree. They were only here because they wanted to have a relationship with a wild animal and didn’t want to be a part of the solution. They feared that if we were successful in ending the abuses that cause wild cats to need rescue, then there would be no more opportunities for them to be up close and personal with wild cats. They would constantly try to undermine the mission of the sanctuary and we had to let them go. Some of them talk trash about us, but they can do a lot more harm inside your gates than outside. Cut them loose. You won’t miss them.

6. Let the world know. You and your volunteers need to promote and celebrate your work and thank those who make it possible. Write posts to all of your social channels, send out a monthly e-zine, we send a quarterly hard copy newsletter, send out press releases, build relationships with your local media. If it’s hot outside give the animals a cool treat and invite the press. When an animal goes to the vet, take photos and involve your supporters with real time updates from your cell phone. Make it easy for people to sponsor your animals, buy logo branded stuff that they will show others and expect to thank each and every donor over 25.00 with a note of thanks.

7. If you are doing the right things, for the right reasons and are engaging volunteers to spread your mission, the donors will come. They will hear about the good work you do in social networking, the media and from their own friends and families. To this day, the number one reason people mention when we ask how they heard about Big Cat Rescue is that they say they heard about us from a friend. If you ask our largest donors why they give they will tell you it is because they can see that they are making a difference.