UPDATE: They shoot horses, don’t they? Maybe not
February 20, 2009
By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN
A temporary halt in the random killing of animals at Cayucos’ Dancing Star Sanctuary has been declared by officials of the Los Angeles-based foundation that administers the facility.
None of the ten horses and cattle slated to meet the vet’s needle next week will be euthanized, employees of the sanctuary said they have been informed. The cessation follows an investigative report Tuesday by CalCoastNews revealing a recent surge in the number of animals being killed for “economic” reasons by veterinarians at the sanctuary, which hosts about 200 aged, infirm farm animals. The foundation’s assets exceed $42 million, and its top three officers collect nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in salary, according to the foundation’s IRS 990 form.
Additionally, departing employees are being now required to sign a stringent agreement prohibiting them from talking publicly about the sanctuary before receiving a severance check equivalent to about a week’s pay. CalCoastNews obtained a copy of the agreement.
Officials of Dancing Star Sanctuary, which also maintains a facility in Paso Robles, did not return reporters’ calls for comment Friday.
The four-page “severance and general release agreement” was first distributed to cashiered employees last week, Friday the 13th, by Don Cannon, the foundation’s vice president for finance. The agreement seeks to prohibit former employees from “making disparaging statements or remarks about the foundation, any of its officers, directors, employees or any of its activities.” It also attempts to limit contact with the media: “Employees will not publish, blog, or in any way publicly speak or write about the foundation or its officers or directors.”
Also contained in provisions of the agreement is a prohibition against former employees “assisting or engaging in any litigation against the foundation relating to anything occurring prior to the effective date of this agreement, except as compelled by order of a court or as necessary to participate in an investigation or proceeding conducted by [governmental agencies].”
Cannon promises in the agreement that the foundation will not contest a former employee’s efforts to secure unemployment insurance if conditions of the agreement are met.
(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.)