One of the eight dogs seized from Krabloonik in December has fled his foster home and is now living on a mountainside in Woody Creek, where volunteers and shelter employees are leaving food for him and attempting to bring him home.
Dasher, a mixed-breed sled dog, has been under the care of Colorado Animal Rescue in Glenwood Springs since the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office took him from the Snowmass Village dog-sledding operation. Prosecutors have charged Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen with eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, and a trial is set for October in Pitkin County Court. MacEachen forfeited his right to the seized dogs in February.
Since then, Colorado Animal Rescue has adopted out four of the dogs, and Dasher was taken in temporarily by a foster family in the midvalley who were trying to help socialize him, said Leslie Rockey, director of Colorado Animal Rescue.
Conan Angelo, who with his wife was caring for Dasher, said they had the animal about 21/2 weeks and gave him exercise, massages and an “immense amount of caring.” During all that time, Dasher’s “tail never came out” from between his legs.
“He just was always looking for an escape route,” Angelo said.
Angelo was leading Dasher into his home when Dasher bumped into a chair. The sound spooked the dog, and he took off.
“I had a love for the dog, but its mental state was far beyond what I could actually do,” Angelo said.
That was several weeks ago, and the dog was sighted in several locations in the Roaring Fork Valley at first, Rockey said. Colorado Animal Rescue posted fliers and newspaper ads about the missing dog. At one point, sightings seemed to indicate that Dasher was moving back toward Colorado Animal Rescue, and later he seemed to be headed upvalley.
“It’s difficult because he won’t go anywhere near people,” Rockey said.
For at least the past 12 days, Dasher has been staying in one spot, which volunteers trying to get him out have nicknamed “Dasher Mountain.” Construction workers and volunteers — who include the Angelos, the owners of the private land that the dog is on and Tracey Yajko, of Colorado Animal Rescue — are seeing him there daily, but he won’t let anyone near him.
“He has been seen to run up the mountain when he’s scared,” said Aspen resident Ricki Smith Newman, who has been checking on the dog daily.
“He’s never ever been aggressive,” not at the Colorado Animal Rescue facility and not during the rescue attempts, Newman said.
ReRe Baker, Pitkin County animal safety director, said her department has set up traps where Dasher was sighted, but he moved on. Doors on the traps, which are baited with food, are triggered when an animal enters.
“I think he’s trap-savvy,” Baker said.
Volunteers have set up a trailer in a pasture below the hillside and are putting food in it daily, and they say Dasher is looking much healthier than when he first arrived.
“He was skin and bones when we (first) saw him out there,” Newman said. “He really has a good setup, except he has to have help with food and he’s going to need somewhere warm this winter.”
At one point, Yajko brought another Krabloonik dog out to the ranch in the hopes of luring Dasher out, but “he had no interest in coming over,” she said. She and Newman even added sedative to Dasher’s food one night, but it didn’t knock him out.
Now everyone involved is hoping he will come in the trailer and someone can shut him in there. Yajko said her organization has a “long-term plan” to take the dog to a place similar to the ranch he is hiding out on now, where he would have some space to roam.
Some residents might want to help, but more people chasing the dog will only push him away, Yajko said.
“The sad thing is, he knows me to a degree ... (and) chasing him just makes him go further away,” Yajko said. “I would caution people to leave him be.”
No one is giving up, said Baker, and it is a good sign that Dasher has stayed in one place this long and is visiting the trailer regularly.
“If we can get him trained to go in that door, we can get him captured,” Baker said.