Krabloonik critics may go to Snowmass voters | AspenTimes.com

Krabloonik critics may go to Snowmass voters

Madeleine Osberger
Snowmass Village correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Snowmass Sun fileThe dogs at Krabloonik, a dogsled operation in Snowmass Village, were the focus of a Town Council discussion this week. The council declined to enact new regulations aimed at the operation.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Opponents of the Krabloonik kennels and dogsled operation may be down but they aren’t out after the Snowmass Village Town Council this week told the group the town won’t be enacting any ordinances or sanctions against owner Dan MacEachen.

“I think Dan has made a lot of strides. You should be proud. I don’t think it’s been all for naught,” said Mayor Bill Boineau, who lives near the facility. He went on to cite positive changes – inspired by citizens from the Voices for Krabloonik and Friends of Aspen Animal Shelter groups – that Krabloonik has made as a result of the public outcry against how the sled dogs were treated.

The group members have already been able to get the operator to hold to the number of dogs allowed on site (fewer than 250). By the end of next year, MacEachen will have to increase the length of each dog’s chain to at least 6 feet as well as add a fence to the site’s perimeter. But their ordinance request, which includes requiring increased staff to provide increased dog oversight, and exercise pens for social interaction, didn’t gain support among council members.

Voices’ spokesman Bill Fabrocini, who sat on the Krabloonik Advisory Committee, said he hasn’t given up hope of circulating a citizens’ petition about the kennel that could be placed on a future ballot.

“Things have improved because we’ve been regulating” Krabloonik, said Fabrocini, who maintains that treatment of the working animals is “a moral issue.” Following the meeting he added, “I sleep better knowing the dogs are being treated better.”

The Humane Society is also getting involved in the Krabloonik issue. A July 9 letter to 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson cites specific incidences that depict a “a pattern of abuse” at Krabloonik, according to Holly Tarry, Colorado director of the Humane Society. Those events include alleged recent dog dragging incidents, as well as documented accounts of how the dogs were treated from 1988, 1998 and 2007. Tarry’s letter was copied to state Sen. Gail Schwartz, a Snowmass Village resident, and state Rep. Kathleen Curry.

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At this week’s council meeting, veterinarian Dr. Kate Anderson, program administrator for the state’s Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, answered questions about Krabloonik and how it shapes up against comparable businesses. She said corrections have been made on non-compliant issues, including veterinary inspections. Dr. Anderson also went on to note that she visited Krabloonik on Monday of this week to check on the progress of the tether lengths, which are about half-way completed. When asked if the facility is in “good standing with the department,” she replied, “Yes, you could say that.”

Dan MacEachen took the floor as well. “From 10 years ago, there’s been a tremendous amount of improvements,” he said. The upgrades include watering and clean-up of the dogs’ area twice a day, among the more visual changes. MacEachen also went on to describe how “every allegation made is not necessarily true,” including one stemming from a photograph of a dog apparently being dragged alongside a sled by a musher who didn’t stop.

MacEachen criticized one of the advisory groups for what he believed was a false promise to spay/neuter a sled dog for free. Anne Gurchick, representing the Friends of Aspen Animal Shelter, said that was a misunderstanding based upon the fact that MacEachen had failed to put together a comprehensive spaying plan.

She also told the elected officials, “Your constituents are starting to speak louder and louder to us” about Krabloonik’s mode of operation.

mosberger@snowmasssun.com