Director threatened over new dog policy |

Director threatened over new dog policy

Steve Benson

What started out as somewhat of a joke has suddenly turned alarmingly serious.Shirley Tipton, director of the Red Brick Center for the Arts, began receiving threatening phone calls on Thursday after reports were published about a new dog policy at the facility. The new policy states, among other details, that a dog must be leashed when outside its owner’s office. Tipton said she received several anonymous phone calls throughout the day, which included threats like “Watch your back,” and comments like “You’re a Nazi bitch” and “People like you are ruining the community.” The Aspen Times initially reported that dogs must be leashed at all times in the Red Brick, even in their owners’ offices. That information was based on a letter sent to all of the tenants earlier this month. Tipton said that was a misunderstanding and the letter was quickly revised to read, “dogs are no longer allowed to wander free from office to office.” The revision was sent to all of the tenants earlier this month. The new policy was created following about a dozen complaints from guests and tenants – the Red Brick is home to several nonprofits – about dogs roaming the hallways unchecked, relieving themselves on the floors, destroying art displays and generally creating a nuisance. Tipton had nothing to do with the creation of the new policy. She merely gathered the complaints and delivered them to the Red Brick’s board of directors, which is part of her job. The board then created the new policy. “It wasn’t formed by me at all,” a visibly upset Tipton said. “And it’s not a burdensome policy – it’s the same policy all city buildings have, and this is a city-owned building.”These dogs are not imprisoned.” Reports of the threatening phone calls disturbed and shocked even those who don’t agree with the new policy, like Corby Anderson, who works for GrassRoots TV and is the owner of a dog named Bear. “That’s insane,” Anderson said, adding that his vocal opposition to the new policy was meant to be taken lightly. “It was a joke,” he said, shaking his head. “It was all tongue-in-cheek, or rather tennis-ball-in-cheek.” GrassRoots TV will be holding a “Celebration of the Dog” party next Wednesday at noon, which will include hot dogs and the reading of dog poetry.”We were going to have a revolt, but we decided to celebrate instead,” said GrassRoots Executive Director John Masters. Anderson added that even those who disagree with the policy should not take out their aggression on Tipton.”It’s ridiculous … besides it’s not even [Tipton’s creation],” Anderson said. “She’s just doing her job.” The Aspen Police Department could not be reached for comment regarding the threatening phone calls. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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