Krabloonik draws attention of state, local authorities after complaints |

Krabloonik draws attention of state, local authorities after complaints

State investigation, town discussions ongoing regarding Krabloonik

Krabloonik Dog Sledding in Snowmass Village has been the subject of both state and local investigations as well as ongoing town discussions in response to concerns and formal complaints submitted to the town of Snowmass Village, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) Program.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is awaiting the approval of an arrest warrant for a former musher for one charge of misdemeanor animal abuse after an incident was recorded on video and sent to local law enforcement.

PACFA investigation finds noncompliance with state regs

PACFA, a state licensing program, has received two complaints about operations, according to program section chief Nick Fisher; investigation into one of those complaints is ongoing.

Fisher and inspector Kari Kishiyama looked into one of those complaints, filed by former musher Trevor Ohlstein in mid-January, during an unannounced site visit on Jan. 18.

Fisher and Kishiyama conducted an investigation in response to the complaint and an overall facility inspection because the last inspection was completed in September 2021, Fisher said in a Feb. 22 phone call.

At that time, Fisher and Kishiyama found that Krabloonik was not compliant with PACFA’s regulations due to several violations related to missing or incomplete documentation, improperly stored food and expired medication onsite. Expired topical medications were discarded while Kishiyama was on scene, but the report indicated that inspectors still needed documentation showing that one medication from 2017 had been disposed of.

Incomplete medical records and expired medications were both cited as “direct violations” which “can directly affect the health, safety and welfare of the dogs under (Krabloonik’s) care,” the report states. None of those violations pertained to Ohlstein’s complaint, according to a report by Kishiyama.

Krabloonik had until Feb. 10 to make corrective measures on those violations; Fisher said he had not yet seen a new report from Kishiyama indicating whether those measures were submitted. Three other violations related to record-keeping and documentation had already been corrected by Jan. 20, according to Kishiyama’s report.

Multiple direct violations “could result in a failed inspection,” and three failed inspections “could be the potential for revocation of their license,” he said.

The investigation into the other complaint is still ongoing, Fisher said. Records are not yet available on an open investigation, according to an email from Michele Barton, PACFA’s licensing and education unit administrator.

Review committee report identifies “abstract” Best Practices, unmet promises

The town of Snowmass Village also has received complaints about the facilities, records show, as has the Krabloonik Best Practices Review Committee.

That committee is down to one member, the town-appointed Seth Sachson, after recent resignations from four other members. The town and Krabloonik are moving forward with selecting new members: Krabloonik has identified Ed Foran, Blake Greiner and Stacy Rothenberg for their three likely selections, and Snowmass Village Town Council identified applicants Bill Fabrocini and Karyn E. Spiropoulos as their top two choices at a meeting on Feb. 22.

Sachson filed an eight-page report on Feb. 8 that determined that though “Krabloonik has complied with their minimum contractual requirements,” the owners of Krabloonik have “neglected to follow through with the majority of their promises” that were established in the Best Practices that accompany Krabloonik’s lease with the town. (The town of Snowmass Village is Krabloonik’s landlord and leases the land to the operation at $10 per year through 2026.)

That report comes after a three-page Jan. 17 report on the facilities from Sachson and then-committee member Bland Nesbit.

The Feb. 8 report states that the Best Practices contain “abstract ideas and aspirations” and lack “specific, tangible rules for Krabloonik to follow,” resulting in “subjectivity and confusion” about what exactly fulfilling those promises and Best Practices would look like.

The Best Practices do include some metrics, like a goal to have at most 175 dogs at the kennel (there are currently a few shy of 200) and a commitment to adopt out dogs over the age of 10. But other goals are more broad strokes, like a commitment to “develop and institute new and modernized standards of sled dog care” and an emphasis on “passion,” “love” and “devotion” for the dogs.

“A lot of the language in (the best practices) has always bothered me because it’s sort of fluffy … basically like, ‘I’m going to love the dogs,’” Sachson said in a phone interview. “Well, how do you define love?”

Town staff have started conversations with Sachson to discuss how those Best Practices could be solidified, Town Manager Clint Kinney said in a phone call on Feb. 21. The Best Practices Review Committee can make suggestions to the town on how to modify the Best Practices, according to the terms of Krabloonik’s lease.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Stacy Rothenberg’s name, which was misspelled in town documents referenced for reporting here.


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