Horse sanctuary foreman fined for killing wild pigs

December 23, 2009


Dancing Star Foundation reportedly levied fines against its foreman for illegal poaching at the sanctuary, situated south of Harmony on 700 rolling acres along U.S. Highway 1, sources said.

Former employees of the Dancing Star Sanctuary told CalCoastNews that foreman Jerry Smith shot and killed wild pigs at the sanctuary without the proper license earlier this year. Fish and Game officials fined the foreman for the killing, which sources report was then paid by the Dancing Star Foundation.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” said Dancing Star Foundation’s Vice President of Finance Don Cannon.

Smith did not return requests for comment.

horseIn addition to killing wild pigs, sources claim ranch hands cut the head off a Watusi cow, after a local veterinarian had euthanized the animal, so that it could be used to construct a roping dummy. Numerous past employees claim that the current sanctuary administration has turned the animal refuge into a slaughter yard.

Earlier this year, employees of the sanctuary said that foundation administrators had ordered the accelerated slaughter of many of their wards. In just a few months, 30 of the sanctuary’s 200 animals were killed.

Following a CalCoastNews report of the organized destruction of animals entrusted to the ocean-side sanctuary, the non-profit board members abruptly stopped systematic animal eliminations.

Nevertheless, since our February article was posted, all but three employees have either been fired or quit working for the non-profit.

Earlier this year, Smith ordered maintenance supervisor Jason Hamaker to vacate within 24 hours the ranch home he occupied, and fired the outspoken employee who helped bring to light the killing of healthy animals at the Cayucos sanctuary. Sources report Dancing Star board members approved a hefty settlement to Hamaker who had hired an attorney to represent him.

Hamaker, who reportedly signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement, did not return requests for comment.

A “kill list,” prepared with the help of a veterinarian and weighted heavily by economic considerations, was used to determine which five horses and which five cows to eliminate each week. These factors included individual animals’ costs relating to food and medication needs.

Sue Stiles started the foundation in 1993 with a focus on providing a refuge for elderly and handicapped horses, cows and burros. She reportedly endowed the foundation with more than $60 million to keep her dream alive. Stiles died in 2002 after putting her mission statement on record:

“The purpose of this corporation shall be (1) for the prevention of cruelty and the provisions of care for domestic animals and, (2) to make grants, donations, gifts, and contributions from its net income or assets, exclusively for charitable, scientific, literary, artistic, or educational purposes…” according to amended bylaws Stiles submitted during her illness, on March 11, 1998.

Former and present employees of the Dancing Star Foundation claim that its top officers, Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, have vacillated between claims that either economic issues or quality of life concerns prompted their kill policy. According to the foundation’s 2007 IRS Form 990 filed Oct. 6, 2008, the group had more than $43 million in assets. Tobias, as president, receives a yearly salary of $285,500; Vice President Morrison, $244,000; and Vice President of Finance Don Cannon, $240,000.

The Animal Place Sanctuary, with assistance from Lucy Sheldon, applied to California’s Secretary of State for the non-profit corporation’s filings and sent them to the Attorney General with a request seeking an investigation. A spokesman for California Attorney General Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, said he could not deny or confirm an ongoing investigation of the current Dancing Star board.

An Atascadero resident who had surrendered an animal to Dancing Star because of the intent of the foundation and her conversations with Stiles, asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate how the current board is managing monies.

Click on the following link to watch a video, shot by a former sanctuary employee, of a day of killing at Dancing Star animal sanctuary:


Who is stealing hay from Santuary? And also firewood? And the pigs were poached, not legally hunted. The person who did this knows the difference.


After watching the video for third time, utterly disgusting, I’d like to see how those people would feel, sticking a needle of death in them. And to think the guy on the camera was sniffling the whole time but didn’t do a thing about it. How pathedic!


I downgraded your post because of the last line. The person who took the video couldn’t make them stop, no one could. Anyone who complained was terminated on the spot. It’s better to stay and at least document the events. Without people like the sniffling person behind the camera, organizations like the AHS, PETA, Green Peace, etc would never have got us as far as they have where animal rights are concerned. KUDO’s HUGG’S, and 3 CHEER’S to Mr. sniffles.


“better to stay and at least document the events.” Really Cindy? It was still sick and wrong. Where are the guts of people. So you got terminated. So what! How about doing whats right.

You are proably one of those people who enjoy pulling legs off of ants or throwing frogs in boiling hot water. Shame on you!


Dear Cindy you are so correct and this has become the normality of our pathetic society, look the other way when a little girl gets her jaw broken by, well we still don,t know who. At least this guy with the camera did ALL he or SHE could, document and provide proof to thousands, Kudos and more Kudos to the camera guy and I bet deep down he wanted to stick that needle in somewhere else, like right up these horse killers as**s**!!!!!!!!and to !!!!!!!&#^*!you Mad Hatter, you are definitely in need of some help.


I guess Sue Stiles, (after watching the video for third time and realizing, the same organization was involved), utterly disgusting, I’LL never eat another hotdog in my time!

Boycott, pork, pork byproducts, and horse meat, dog foods! The only way to this countries brains is through their pocketbook or their stomachs, lunch meat, worphers!


Pigs are here and were here first, shoot em, eat em, umm good! with the proper license of course!

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This is an animal sanctuary for unwanted farm animals. Horses, Cows and pigs. Yes pigs. Susan Stiles left over $60 Million to care for these creatures and one of her favorites was a pig. These trustees have broke her trust time and time again. She would not have killed a few boar that wondered onto her property. There is more than enough acreage to sustain the 3 boar that were slaughtered. The fact is that these trustees prefer to study exotic species in exotic countries. They need to fund their preferred projects from some other means rather than bilk the one funds trusted to them for the care of Dancing Star sanctuary and it’s creatures.


Cindy, since you seem to have better information about this article, Can you clear up the confusion about who fined who? Three boars?


Well it seems that the Fish and Game department either fined Dancing Star or the Foreman. After that I’m confused but it looks like Dancing Star paid the fine after the foreman had the fine levied against him by Dancing Star. The original fine was from the F&G is all I’m sure of.


Makes no sense at all, unless Dancing Star paid the Foreman’s fine then passed that fine on to the foreman later.

The way this article is written is awkward to say the least.

It really just boils down to a pig poach, hardly Earthshaking news.


Cindy I’m home, and wild pigs live there, by the hundreds, I agree with Vagabond and rukidding they are lunch meat for every paso ranch owner, why do you think Gearhart has such jowls! Check out the trib,’s latest on his bankruptcy filing, much more filling!


Another great non-profit. Over $750,000 for salaries for 3 people. Please, give me a break. This sounds like one of our local government jobs. I wonder what kind of benefit packages these non-profits have set up for themselves. Too bad that some people who really care about these animals couldn’t replace these parasites. What a great program it could snd should be.


Hey rukidding, can you get me an application, it’s either, going em, or eat em, my wife say’s eat em, I say, give me a pay check, and well eat the best parts! Bipartisanship at it’s best!


OOOps I meant joining em, sorry!!!!!!


I’m confused, were the fines levied on Smith by Fish and Game or the Foundation?

If by Fish and Game the information should be public.

There is no such thing as a “Wild” pig The term wild insinuates the same thing as “native”

like “Wild animals” such as deer and bears and squirrels.

Pigs are feral animals, like horses and cows.

Feral pigs are a destructive nuisance almost everywhere they exist.


I agree on the distinction between feral pigs and wild animals.

I add, in defense of the foreman: If the pigs are causing a problem, DFG can issue a Depredation Permit over the fax. The fine was likely minimal because the “crime” is a paperwork oversight.

Kind of a “non-story,” IMO. Either that or a smear-the-foundation attempt.

However, any story about Dancing Star is bound to get the hit count up for this site, and that’s what it’s all about, no?


Racket aren’t pigs, pigs, if they run in the wild, wouldn’t that make them wild pigs? I thought they were called wild bor? Like Old Yeller, quite dangerous to hunt, 7.62 X 54.R nato round type thing, kaboom!,,, Or they eat you, right? Dangerous to hunt right, a challenge, training, right gun and a back up, many people have been shot by a friend during this quest for supremacy! If this is a non-story, your full of baloney! Or turkey, Merry Christmas my friend and you are my friend!


Pigs make a racket, but hopefully somewhere near there is where the similarities end.

“Wild” pigs are descended from our domesticated pigs, so I guess a case could be made that they should be coddled at Stiles’. Good luck fencing them in so they’re not a nuisance to the neighbors.

Their diet is pretty varied, and they are not much good to eat, in my experience. They are dangerous a close quarters, but not particularly dangerous otherwise. I believe they are more often killed by ranchers in the name of nuisance abatement than for sport or food.

Merry Christmas.

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