Snowmass takes wait-and-see approach on Krabloonik
March 24, 2014
The Snowmass Village Town Council is waiting for Dan MacEachen's next court appearance to determine how to publicly address his operation of the Krabloonik dog-sledding kennel.
The District Attorney's Office in December charged MacEachen with eight counts of animal cruelty, each relating to a dog it said was either malnourished or required medical care. On March 11, MacEachen's arraignment was continued for the third time, and it appeared his counsel and District Attorney Sherry Caloia were working on a plea bargain.
Activists consistently have lobbied Snowmass Village's elected officials to have a public process regarding the operation of the kennel, which MacEachen owns and operates on land leased from the town. On Feb. 18, the council voted, 3-2, to schedule a related discussion, despite earlier saying that it would wait for the criminal case to be resolved.
At the most recent council meeting, Councilman Jason Haber asked when the discussion would be scheduled, and Town Attorney John Dresser once again advised to hold off.
"I'll remind you of my advice from the day the investigation was launched, (which was) there should be no communication from this body: no presentation, no anything so that you in no way compromise or interfere with the district attorney's ability to get to the very question that this body has had throughout the years … since the lease went into effect," Dresser said. "My advice hasn't changed. Your acceptance of that advice has changed."
Councilwoman Markey Butler asked what the most recent developments in the case had been, and Dresser and Town Manager Gary Suiter told her that the arraignment had been continued to April 15 and that one of the eight dogs seized had been diagnosed with cancer and euthanized. The animals are being held by Colorado Animal Rescue in Glenwood Springs.
Councilman Jason Haber compared the discussion to a presentation of the history of Base Village approvals that the council heard recently.
"What is the background, what is the history, what is the lay of the land, and either relative to our lease agreement with Krabloonik and background as it relates to town regulations regarding animal welfare," Haber said.
"I think those are all great things to know," said Councilman Fred Kucker. "I just don't think we should do anything public to in any way prejudice the case while it's still pending."
Haber said the council wouldn't have to open it up to public comment but could just receive a presentation, "so when we do have a decision about that case, we can be prepared to move forward or stay still or do whatever is appropriate."
Dresser cautioned that that likely would elicit criticism from the public, just as it did when Mayor Bill Boineau would not allow public comment regarding Krabloonik during a council meeting in December.
Councilman Chris Jacobson suggested a compromise of asking for Suiter to prepare such a presentation and have it ready for when the council becomes more comfortable.
"The case is pending," Dresser said. "I really have ethical problems with you discussing why this town entered into this lease agreement, because that could be fundamental to the case."
Dresser suggested scheduling an update on the topic for the April 21 council meeting and discussing a new plan of action then, based on the outcome of MacEachen's next court hearing.
"The D.A. will have a robust public process," Haber said jokingly, quoting the demands of the Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs activist group that Boineau promised to meet at a future date.
"But a history lesson is not a robust public process," Dresser said.
"Right, it's background," Haber said. "That's OK, I can take your advice."
Boineau asked the council members to affirm that they were comfortable with the decision. Suiter said he would add a "Krabloonik update" to the April 21 council agenda.