UPDATE: Dancing Star whistleblower shown the gate

February 25, 2009
Dancing Star maintenance supervisor Jason Hamaker was fired for discussing killing practices at the facility.

Dancing Star maintenance supervisor Jason Hamaker was fired for discussing killing practices at the facility.


Dancing Star Foundation has fired a fulltime employee considered a whistleblower by supporters because of his actions in bringing to light the killing of healthy animals at the Cayucos animal sanctuary.

Earlier today, sanctuary foreman Jerry Smith ordered maintenance supervisor Jason Hamaker to vacate the ranch home he occupies within 24 hours, and fired the outspoken employee.

“[Smith] blocked the gate so I couldn’t leave… parked his truck in front of the gate,” Hamaker said of the contentious confrontation. “I am represented by [San Luis Obispo attorney] Jeff Stulberg. He said they can’t kick me out with just 24 hours notice.”

Whistleblowers are protected under the California False Claims Act. According to Section 12653, “an employer may not discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, deny promotion to, or in any other manner discriminate against, an employee in the terms and conditions of employment because he or she has disclosed information to the government.”

Hamaker went public after witnessing dozens of the animals he was hired to care for meet the veterinarian’s needle. He has questioned whether the non-profit foundation’s officials are following the wishes of Sue Stiles, benefactress and founder of the foundation. Stiles endowed the foundation with more than $60 million before she died in 2002.

“These people think they are above the law,” Hamaker added. “They tell new employees they have $40 million and there is nothing you can do about it. You fall in love with the animals, and you stay.”

Click on the following link to watch a video, shot by a current sanctuary employee, of a day of killing at Dancing Star animal sanctuary.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omgF2NqgXsw

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By: Elvis on 5/16/09

So what is the latest on Dancing Star?

By: stellablue72 on 4/17/09

That is a good picture of Jason. I see there has been no comment for quite some time. I just wanted to comment that I AM still thinking about the grim situation at Dancing Star- and I am still crying over Petunia.

The cutest little burro you could ever imagine.

I'm happy that I gave her lots of kisses and hugs while I was there.

By: KARMA on 3/6/09

John Wayne, hmmmm. Know what we do with old cowboys that misbehave?! Wonder if there's a tree at the Dancin' Star Sanctuary with a nice big branch!

By: R_Cubed on 3/5/09

"Well, I don't favor talkin' to vermin, but I'll talk to you just this once"~John Wayne

By: KARMA on 3/4/09

sierrablu – emailed Cal Coast News yesterday for them to give you my email.

By: sierrablu on 3/4/09

Thankyou Cyndi for your comments, it inspires me to continue getting the word out. I know it will work out. You are very wise. Please contact us if you want to help.

We are working on a site we can all go to.

Thankyou Cindy for all your comments. Looking forward to hearing from you.

By: Cindy on 3/3/09

KARMA & Sierrablu,

You can contact each other by going to the Editors and giving them your e-mail address while giving permission to release your address to each other. Mulegirl has left me her e-mail address and I contacted her. I'll get Sierrablu's address from her. Please note that there is now a Cyndi here not to be confused with Cindy (me).

By: sunnyhaven on 3/3/09

oh yeah, if I was the manager of a sanctuary or a BOD member, that came under attack by current & past employees, and I thought that they were lying, I would damn sure come out of hiding & go on KVEC & KSBY and give interviews & clear my good name, because I would have nothing to hide. That's a huge telling factor in credibility.

By: sunnyhaven on 3/3/09

R_Cubed has a serious credibility problem here. Out of all the news, blogs, stories & interviews, and then hearing again what happened to Jason after he told his story, verified many times by many employees, then reading the BOD & their spokesperson's statements, leads one to the opinion that all of these employees are being truthful & R_Cubed is either Jerry Smith, a friend or relative or someone with a stake in DSF. Funny how the people go on the offensive when they are the ones that are wrong. Most of the employees here stated what happened, they didn't attack other people, and I have yet to hear from an "honest employee" that has come forward in person, using their name, and not hiding behind a screen name,

dispute any of this entire story. We can tell by your personal attacks on these employees, R_Cubed that you are the one being dishonest & just wanted you to know that your posts are not believed by anyone.

Your "facts" are the one true fantasy here.

By: Cyndi on 3/3/09

Wow, sounds like someone on here is very hostile and likes belittling others and airing laundry he/she seems to know quite alot about…must really like themself. I would consider myself very educated working for a global corporation.

Oh yes, I also have a hobby….I HUNT. Which leads me to have to respond to the "cow incident" alleged with a chain saw. I hunt because animal populations have to be controlled.( I am certainly not hunting in an animal sanctuary, where they are to be PROTECTED) When I harvest an animal for the meat for my family, I do bring home the antlers. Well I get those off the head by using a saw. By golly, I get blood on me too. So what that Jason cut off the horns with a chainsaw, thats what you do with an animal that large. If the animal were deceased what else do you do?

One of you is missing the whole point here. This particular farm "Dancing Star" was set up to be a SANCTUARY, please look up that word.

We arent talking about the animal control services ( which was not a privatley set up foundation), nor cats in Los Osos, or other places that may or may not need help. We're talking about one foundation "Dancing Star". Maybe if this makes you so angry, where you have to air dirty laundry to make yourself feel better is something you should think about. I don't want to be negative about anyone here, thats not my intention. How do you know these personal details unless you were involved in the corruption too, wether it's by working there or having a personal relationship/friendship with one who did.

Why do you think all of this came out? Because God himself wanted it to be heard Sue is up there with HIM….hmmmmm…. Otherwise it would have been kept a big secret. Someones heart was crying out, maybe Jason's heart was touched. Maybe he was mis-guided by another on the ranch or in his past. Maybe he wants to see this stop and didn't know how? So maybe he acted wrongly in the past. It's NEVER too late for someone to care and make changes,( our world would certainly be a better place, and I think we ALL can agree on that) it's up to all of us "the people" to make change happen.

This is all about the wrong choices that were made against a deceased womans wishes(God rest her soul) People leave trusts for them to be carried out as they would if they were still here. It's very clear, this is not being done. All of us horse folks out here have one thing in common, and that's to see that this stops and sanctuary care can be provided in the future. It's OK for us to try and do something about it. I can asure you, if I left my millions with instructions and my wishes werent being followed, I would be turning in my grave.

As far as Dancing Star goes, it will be fantastic for Dancing Star to survive, so far I havn't seen anyone say they want it not to. I personally would like to see the MANAGEMENT practices adhere to sanctuary/trust guidelines thats all. Some people, just take power to their head, and forget that someone else had kindness and a peaceful resting place in mind.

My animals have been good to me, packing, hunting, balancing me over tough terrain, and most of all giving me a smile when we accomplished a task. They DESERVE to live out their lives in a sanctuary. I have this opinion of all my animlas.

So for the one or two people on here that are just very angry and have negative things to talk about, maybe your hearts need a little adjusting and you'd understand the rest of us.( a bible's a great start) Everyone God Bless, keep up prayer and this will all work itself out.

By: sierrablu on 3/3/09

Karma-Welcome back. Wish I knew how to contact you. Would love to discuss the BOD new accommodations.

By: KARMA on 3/3/09

Just thought I'd check back in and review the current posts. I'm sorry to see the activity is dwindling. The interest and concern is still swarming like flies out here in the real world though it is not showing here on this site.

Perhaps you local residents by the Sanctuary need to start WORKING TOGETHER and MAKE THINGS RIGHT. DSF board is probably having a good laugh at some of these posts – they read too! You need to continue showing them their destined path – Since they are such so called environmentalists, they'll soon enjoy earth's finest living between cement walls. And since they like living high on the hog, the good ol' DSF board will just love their new striped fashion statement which eagerly awaits them.

The over priced media dodger the BOD hired is not helping them. All he is doing is sucking up Sue's money for himself, just like the rest of the BOD. Yes, since they are so called environmentalists, they will soon be finding themselves swimming with the fishes – Piranhas, which will eat them alive! The silent attack which the DSF BOD will NEVER see coming, will be be the truest vindication for both Sue and the DSF animals.

By: mulegirl on 3/2/09

Cyndi, I agree with sierrablu. Since we wanted to connect earlier, and I couldn't get your e-mail addy, I'm going to ask you to e-mail me, please, at mulerider2 at yahoo dot com. OK? Thanks! I'll put you in touch with sierrablu, too, after we get in touch.

By: sierrablu on 3/2/09

Cyndi-You Rock!

By: George on 3/2/09

save the cows! stop feeding the troll.

(some troll food commentary removed)

By: R_Cubed on 3/2/09

Well I am going to give you all some information about 'cutting off cows heads'….I can say for a 100% fact I know Jason (mister high and mighty) took it upon himself one day while Jerry Smith was off the ranch to cut the head off a cow. I use the term cow because most of you probably wouldn't know this animals technical breed name, so for the uneducated, we can keep using 'cow' when referring to the cattle livestock. Anyway when Jason was finished cutting the heads off he was covered in blood as if he bathed in the blood…why you might wonder was there SO much blood? Oh, I forgot to mention he used a chainsaw and he did it for the beautiful horns on this particular animal. I swear by this statement.

Next, let's introduce Jen who was the 'Cattle Manager'. Jen had begun her own agenda. By this I mean she began her own 'Hit List' for some of the cattle. I am only going to give one example but trust me when I say there are "many, many" of the same cases she ordered death upon. One day Jen picked out a large red 'cow' to be euthanized because she was "AFRAID" of it. Yes community bloggers and followers, she was afraid of it.

One last thing I will touch on. The person who's post described Jerry Smith in a negative manner was when a man came to work with a inappropriate t-shirt on. This t-shirt had a middle finger only, extended and the back of the shirt read "Fuck Dancing Star". Real professional…and why was he scooping poop for $6 an hour?

I will say people have come up with interesting opinions but facts are facts and Dancing Star will survive…

PS: Maybe some of you who want to really fight for animal rights should visit your local Animal Shelter where they euthanize dogs, puppies, cats and kittens daily and weekly…who's fighting for them?

By: Cyndi on 3/2/09

Reading what a couple of you write is mind boggling. I don't personally know any of the employees, however heres the point…wether they were parolees, drunks, druggies, they were all Gods' children who deserve to treated with dignity, and be happy. Have the couple of you ever thought maybe these animals rehab these folks? Animals are great for bringing out the positivity in people, giving them something to actually care for. Have the couple of you " stepped back" and realized no matter what the employees personal stories and habits are, they all had one thing in common. They loved the animals as Ms. Stiles did and liked caring for them. I was in the position many years ago working for our lovely state, where major corruption/diversion of large funds was going on. I wasnt OK with this and I wanted to do my job I was instructed thru orientation to do. Superiors had other things in mind. When I talked to someone about it, I was told " I don't think your judgement can be trusted". Now this was at age 20, I am now 40, and the meaning of that is " if you can't keep a lid on the corruption, you better keep your mouth shut or else". My superiors made my job very uneasy after that, always looking for something wrong. I ultimatley resigned, as the rehab of people(criminals) was not the best interest of the state apparently. This is why I wanted to work there, to help get these men back out into society with knowledge and care for others! Not just throw under the rug the very funding that was there to help them. It was all about where the money was truly going. Money is truly the root of all evil. You can see it going on with Dancing Star. So back to why these people came out with what they witnessed when they did I'm sure was for their true care for these animals. No-one wants to go to their superior and complain, for fear of losing their jobs. It's hard to find a job these days. It doesn't mean these employees liked what was going on, but when you have lossed your job, what holds you back?… NOTHING……I am thankful that JASON and the others cared for these animals and finally did something about it. As far as the person who wants his job, and the comments he's made, I'm sure his 2 years of no work will be alot longer now, shame on you. A couple of the people clearly don't have an understanding of what "Sancutuary" means, maybe you should look it up. I also believe we are talking about one place, not places all over the county and state. I am a horse woman, and have had two very old horses, I medicated them, and cared for them until THEY couldnt walk anymore which I then had them put down. This was not the case with any of these animals. This was purely a reduction in costs from the organization and it was absolutley wrong. The point here is there was money left to take care of these animals until they died naturally, which means until they take their last breath on THEIR OWN, just as many humans do and it's not pretty, but thats the way it is. For those couple of you who clearly are just angry or the who's defending Mr. Smith, I'm sure your a few friends and family, as he is NOT A NICE MAN. Those who care are trying to prevent this from happening further, whats wrong with that? MISMANAGEMENT went down here, and killings that shouldn't have taken place. I won't mention any names but, as far as one seeing a horse carcas in a pasture, gosh thats the greatest way for all animals to go….NATURALLY.(some different people out here) I don't think someone who can't put shoes on their kids/ or feed their family should have a horse? Hmmmm makes one wonder. I just hope all of you understand… those of us who werent there don't KNOW really what has taken place. However, videos don't lie, and those horses shouldn't have been put down. I would like to do what I can to see that this doesnt happen any further. I agree that the trustees of Ms. Stiles trust are just all about the money not the animals and I don't feel this was the intention of Ms. Stiles SANCTUARY for farm animals. Of course Mr Smith is angry, he's just been found out, and I'm sure worried about his salary! Word travels fast in this area….

By: sierrablu on 3/2/09

Newsome I will pass on your concerns. I agree we need a place to go to continue the cause. Please check back let me see what I can do.

By: Joe on 3/2/09

On a ride Saturday. I went out 58. Going up into the hills on the East side of the valley, just about a half mile down from that ranch house was a horse carcass. The bones still have tissue on them, the joints are still intact, no bones have fallen, there is still some hide on the ground and allot vultures. No one protesting the driveway there tho. Guess that horse didn't count.

By: Newsome on 3/2/09

At your suggestion, I went to savedancingstar.com.

My initial observation is that there are no human bodies connected to it.

It appears to be anonymously run. Which is all well and good, but it seems a little unsavory to fire charges at institutions and individuals from the safety of anonymity. (Sort of as I am doing here.)

I would think people who click to the site would take it more seriously if they knew there were humans behind it, or there was a clearly stated reason for the anonymousness.

By: sierrablu on 3/2/09

Please help us get the word out. If we rest for one minute Dancing Star management will think the coast is clear to start killing again. Tell everyone and if anyone out there has any ideas please comment on savedancingstar.com We need someone influencial to back us up, Oprah, Ellen, Dateline, 20/20 are you out there. How about Whoopi on the view she has a beautiful ranch in Vermont and loves her equine friends. It sounds kindof silly but we are up against the likes of gillottecommunications.com and years of corruption and mismanagement of Sue Stiles money. We need big name help. We will fight the good fight but we need to stay united. Save Dancing Star in memory of our departed friend Sue Stiles. God Bless.

By: mulegirl on 3/1/09

I will be checking savedancingstar.com every day. I am SO SO relieved to hear there's investigation(s) continuing. PLEASE keep us posted, and be sure to let those of us not in California know what we can do to help. If ANYTHING moves in lawsuits or investigations, we need to make sure more press gets involved. The two newest posts on savedancingstar.com are right on target. Let's make this happen!

By: Cindy on 2/28/09

This story is now winding down on CCN. I encourage everyone who is interested to go over to savedancingstar.com

By: coasty on 2/27/09

The harry that I am referring to is the donkey that Karma brought up as "proof" of Dr. Evans "checkered past".

By: cowgirl on 2/27/09

The facts about Harry are sad. His horns were mounted on on a practice dummy for ropers to practice roping. He was aggressive in fear but willing for a little A&M. Just so everyone knows the press might be slowing down but were not we've got one possible two investigations going and we're not stopping there. for more info or to keep update go to savedancingstar.com

By: mulegirl on 2/27/09

Good job Michelle. I hope people can do a demonstation in front of their home.

And thanks for the website addy, 4 horses.

By: coasty on 2/27/09

I guess there weren't any facts about Harry?

By: KARMA on 2/27/09

coasty – Phd in Comparative Physiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis

My postings are completed. The best to you all.

By: Michelle on 2/27/09

Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison



By: coasty on 2/27/09


1. Still hedging on details (You don't even tell the story, let alone any facts) regarding Dr. Evans. Forgive my ignorance but what is an "after-life caretaker"?

2. I never asked about the xylazine (No offense to Dr. Weltner, right or wrong I don't know her well enough)

3. How does not being a veterinarian make you qualified to answer veterinary questions?

Really I'm not trying to be offensive to anyone, but please stop saying "facts are the facts" if you are not willing to tell the "whole" story and back it up. If you don't it is just baseless attacks or "stirring the pot" that make you look bad.

By: Joe on 2/27/09

Where is Sister George?

The personal attacks are getting pretty thick, to the point that if they aren't cleaned up, it is showing a bias…

By: warhorse on 2/27/09

Hey Karen ,that was a great article you are a true pro.You are my hero. If it was not for you this might not have gotten this far this fast and we may have lost more than we already had. And even though i am recently unemployed and soon to be homeless i hope you will consider me one of your biggest fans. Thank you so much.

By: KARMA on 2/27/09

"Personal justification lies within the eye of the beholder. One has to live with themself, given their 'own' actions."

R Cubed, whether the euthanasia video was taped from a camcorder or cell phone, I stated we as veterinary professionals reviewing this video "strongly question" the decision for the DSF animals to be euthanized.

Perhaps some posters may want to change their post name to "TwistAndShout" as they seem to twist comments from other posters and then shout about it.

Coasty, I am a professional within the veterinary profession. Many of my colleagues are veterinarians. I have "been there" and "am there" when horses have and are euthanized due to catastrophic injuries. I have had to be there when other animal species have been euthanized (not many, praise God, because it is emotionally devastating).

Coasty your question to me on Harry (donkey) – you may wish to visit with Harry's after-life caretakers at Salisbury Vineyards to help fill you in on details.

Coasty, the unethical fiasco at Creston Farms involving Dr. Weltner – perhaps you need to do a little more digging and you will find your answers. As I said, facts are facts. If Dr. Weltner, bless her heart, would get her personal house in order, I genuinely believe she would have not euthanized any of the DSF animals. When all the legal matters are completed on the DSF case, and if Dr. Weltner comes out on the short end, she can always go back to her former professional career. She is a smart individual. She just has not been focused lately. Yes, I know her.

Coasty, about Dr. Evans. You may want to visit with local, staunch animal activists on past issues.

As I stated, I am not a veterinarian. I am a professional in the veterinary profession, and I am qualified to voice my opinion on various veterinary matters, including veterinary pharmaceuticals. Coasty, you asked about the drug "xylazine" administered at DSF. I suggest you read my post about this drug.

Props for the idea of picketing the BOD's homes. Anyone have their addresses?

Cindy, thank you for your compassionate perspective regarding if the DSF animals were the vet's personal pets and their then decision to put these animals down. I think they would be still alive!

By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

4Horses…..Thank You.

By: 4horses on 2/26/09

I admire Jason for standing up for what he believes in. Hopefully his actions will bring about an investigation to get the truth regarding the events at Dancing Star.

In order to try to keep all the mountains of information on Dancing Star together, several people have put together a website. If you're interested see http://www.savedancingstar.com

By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

Heh heh heh…This is fun.BUT !!!…This must not fade away.Alot of dancing stars non-Existant money is being spent to do just that.The employees have not hired this crisis control team of Roger Gilott.Tobias and his crew have hired them because thier reputations are at risk(not to mention the jail time they face).But I digress.Just keep up the good fight and remember how sexy I am.

By: alphalibertyfoxtrot on 2/26/09

My wife worked for Dancing Star . She is a CalPoly Grad who has never spent a minuet in jail .She loved her cows with all of her heart .She didn't need the paycheck. And she never missed a day of work while she was there .It was JERRY SMITH's HARASSMENT that ruined her time there . Tell me R Cubed ,does Jerry walk on all fours when he is home ? I would think it would be much more comfortable for him to take on his natural stance.

By: cowgirl on 2/26/09

R-PUBED: THANKS for all your insite. It sounds like your pretty good at letting you jaws flap. Let's talk about your past…… from what I hear it was a little shady too. But to get back to the subject at hand it's the animals that are our concern here.

PRICESS1- u sexy longhaired angel you crack me up

By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

One last word about r cubed….He accuses us of assuming.Yet in one of his earlier posts he wrote this>"maybe they didn't make very sound decisions in their life: drugs, drinking, jail, prison, homeless, probation, parolees…it might also be fun to look at these 'employees' attendance records."….Thats the pot calling the kettle black isnt it ?

By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

The L.A. Times did a piece on the story today.Im not sure if its the whole story,but check it out.Its gonna be a little harder for Tobias and roger to sweep this under the rug now.Heres the link.


By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

ok….im done with trolls.On the payroll or not…Lets kick tobias ass !

By: Princess1 on 2/26/09

r cubed….you know nothing.Except what you hear from biased sources.Im there everyday.You are not.

And coasty…you sound smart.Do you not think it would be a wise choice on the part of roger gillott to either come in here himself,or to send someone else ? I would.

By: coasty on 2/26/09

Definitely not a lawyer! :) Marginalize is about the biggest word I know :P All I wanted to get across was that, yes R cube sounds like he has an agenda however I hope that people are willing to listen and think about comments that they might not completely agree with rather then being too quick to dismiss them as a plot.

By: R_Cubed on 2/26/09

Once again you are all so good at assuming and spreading rumors…I am right and I know the facts. I like that I was assumed to be on payroll and a man. If I am on payroll all of you who were the honorable employees and Jason too should be able to detect exactly who I am…maybe I am Jason who realizes I should have made better choices. PS: I like how when some of you feel threatened, you must resort to name calling and claiming how much you know when in actuality, you know squat ;)

Keep the really 'great' posts coming because when I am bored I get a good laugh. Your posts have become the 'Us Weekly' of bulls*it…LOL