Keeper attacked by tiger back to work just weeks after incident

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Just weeks after a tiger nearly killed her, an Indiana woman is back at work and opening up about her attack for the first time.

A tiger attacked Marissa Dub seven weeks ago as she worked in an enclosure at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Clay County.

Dub suffered several serious injuries, including gashes from the tiger’s teeth and claws, a shattered jaw and a punctured airway.

“They had to do emergency surgery (a tracheostomy) to save my life,” Dub said.

It took Dub five weeks before she could speak or eat solid food, and she had to learn about what happened from others.

“I don’t remember any of it,” Dub said. “The entire day is a blank.”

The director at the rescue, Joe Past, saID it appeared as though Dub forgot to close a guillotine door that would have separated the tiger from her while she entered the cage.

“The tiger was where he was supposed to have been, it’s just the door wasn’t shut,” Past said.

When other keepers found her, they said that the tiger, named Raja, appeared to be resting with Dub’s head and neck in his mouth.

Past SAID they were able to save Dub by keeping the cat calm and then offering him meat.

“He saw the meat, he walked in a wide circle around her and came right into his shift cage like it was a regular day,” Past said.

For Dub, there hasn’t been a regular day since. She spent weeks recovering and now, she is still limited to a few hours of work a day as she continues occupational therapy. Her mother, Kris Dub, has been by her side ever since.

“I never dreamed, you know, even when I got the phone call I thought car accident. I didn’t think tiger accident,” Kris Dub said.

Despite the horrific event, Marissa Dub didn’t shy away from returning to work. In fact, after several weeks, Marissa Dub encouraged her mother to get a job at the rescue so that she could go back as soon as possible.

“It’s all she’s ever wanted to do is work with exotic cats,” Kris Dub said. “Absolutely, no question she would be back here.”

“I love the cats. I love my job. It’s my dream job, so even this wouldn’t set me back doing what I do,” Marissa Dub said. “If I wasn’t here the cats would suffer.”

That explains why her first question in the hospital wasn’t about her own health concerns. Instead, she was concerned about Raja.

“He’s a good boy,” Marissa Dub said. “I wanted make sure he was still alive, because it was not his fault.”

The USDA did investigate the attack, but because of apparent error by Marissa Dub, they did not recommend putting Raja down.

The Dub family has created a fund to help with Marissa’s medical expenses. To contribute, checks can be made payable to ‘The Marissa Dub Benefit Fund’. Take it to any BMO Harris Branch or mail it to BMO Harris Bank, 3497 South US 41, Terre Haute, IN, 47802.

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