Oregon Animal Sanctuary Caretaker Found Dead in Facility

The employee was found dead in the WildCat Haven Sanctuary.

November 10, 2013, 12:00 PM

Nov. 10, 2013— -- An employee at an Oregon wild cat sanctuary has died after being attacked by one of the animals at the facility, authorities said.

First responders arrived at the WildCat Haven Sanctuary in Sherwood, Ore., after 7 p.m. Saturday, but the dark, remote area proved inaccessible even for emergency vehicles, Sgt. Robert Wurpes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.

Rescuers were hesitant to enter the sanctuary on foot, saying it was "risky" because they did not know and could not see where the other cats might be, Wurpes said.

"They were pretty concerned walking there," he said.

By the time rescue crews made it to the caretaker, the employee had died. Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue identified the victim as a 35-year-old woman, according to The Oregonian.

"It breaks your heart," the victim's neighbor, Mark Sodaro, told ABC News.

WildCat Haven Sanctuary is a "last hope" facility for more than 60 captive-born wildcats and hybrids that have been neglected, abandoned and abused, according to its website. The facility is not open to the public, but provides on-site tours for donors.

It was not immediately known how the caretaker died, whether it was an accident, or the animal escaped, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

It was also not clear what kind of cat killed the victim, but the incident is under investigation, the sheriff's office said. The sanctuary boasts bobcats, cougars and tigers, among other animals, its website said.

WildCat Haven Sanctuary did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

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