The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office charged Dan MacEachen, owner of the Krabloonik dog-sledding business in Snowmass Village, with eight counts of cruelty to animals on Wednesday.
The Class 1 misdemeanor charges each relate to one of eight dogs seized on Dec. 12 as part of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office. They include two counts regarding medical care and six relating to food and shelter.
MacEachen also was issued a summons to appear in Pitkin County Court for an arraignment on Jan. 14. Defense attorney Greg Greer, who has entered as counsel for MacEachen, did not return a message left at his Glenwood Springs office Wednesday. District Attorney Sherry Caloia filed a motion to set a bond for the cost of caring for the impounded dogs, which are being held at the Colorado Animal Rescue facility in Glenwood Springs. The office is requesting an estimated $1,200 for food costs and $2,800 for veterinary care.
“This may be a low estimate as one dog already required surgery and all dogs need veterinary care,” the motion says.
The motion, which requests that the payment be made by MacEachen and/or Krabloonik Inc., also describes the state of the dogs when seized.
“Prior to being impounded, the dogs were all inspected by a neutral veterinarian,” the motion says. “The inspection revealed that six of the dogs were severely malnourished and 2 required serious veterinarian care. Significant medical care may also be required for more of the malnourished dogs.”
MacEachen may ask that the payment be returned if he wins the case, said District Attorney Sherry Caloia.
Had the charges been considered a second offense, they would have been raised to Class 6 felonies, Caloia said. MacEachen pleaded no contest to an animal-cruelty charge in 1988. That was a deferred judgment, and on completion of probation the charge was dismissed, Caloia said.
The Defense Attorney’s Office has been investigating allegations of animal abuse against MacEachen since three former employees filed complaints with the Snowmass Village Police Department in November. At this point, the office is only charging MacEachen, although Caloia acknowledged that there could be some criminal liability on the part of the business’s other employees.
“Our investigation continues throughout the course of this pace until trial, so we will look at anything that presents itself and make a determination,” Caloia said.
A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and as much as a $1,000 fine, Caloia said. State law also says that a court will order an evaluation of the defendant before sentencing, and it can order that they complete an anger-management or other appropriate treatment program.
“The judge could also make other conditions of a sentence based on an evaluation if she wanted to,” Caloia said.
Bill Fabrocini, co-founder of activist group Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs, said the charges were bittersweet because “it confirms to a great degree what we thought, ... what we knew” was happening at the kennel.
“It’s great news in the sense that something can be done about it,” Fabrocini said.
But “nobody wins,” he said. “This is a tragic story for the community.”
Fabrocini said that something should have been done a long time ago. The Voices group brought much of the same information the district attorney gathered in its investigation, including reports of violations of Pet Animal Care and Facilities Act regulations, to the Snowmass Village Town Council in 2008, he said.
“I personally hold the town of Snowmass Village accountable,” he said.
Whatever happens with the criminal case, the town should instate regulations regarding Krabloonik, including requiring that a veterinarian be present during breeding and euthanasia and proper identification for the dogs, Fabrocini said.
Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Boineau said during a meeting Monday that Krabloonik would be put on a council agenda as soon as the defense attorney’s report was released. That was after he denied allowing members of Voices and others to speak about the kennel during a time set aside for public non-agenda items.
However, Town Attorney John Dresser said the council might have to wait until the charges are resolved because the town owns the property that the kennel operates on.
The lease between the town and Krabloonik has a provision that the tenant must comply with all laws applicable to the premises. The lease also states that if the tenant defaults on any of its conditions, the town as landlord can re-enter the premises and terminate the lease.
“This is a tragic story for the community.”
Voices of Krabloonik