Krabloonik promises changes |

Krabloonik promises changes

Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen said he will try to put more retired or injured dogs up for adoption and change the way they are euthanized. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

After a torrent of criticism set off by the revelation that sled dogs are occasionally shot in the head at Krabloonik, the owner said Tuesday that he will change how his dogs are euthanized.And more efforts will be made at adopting out dogs that are sick or are too young or old to pull a sled, said Dan MacEachen, owner of Krabloonik, the nation’s largest dog-sled operation. E-mails savaging him and the Snowmass Village business continued to pour in yesterday, he said. In response, “I’ll definitely be looking at concessions on euthanizing the dogs that are more socially accepted,” MacEachen said.”What we’re doing is distasteful, but it’s perfectly within my legal grounds to do it. However, that doesn’t change the thought that this hasn’t been portrayed totally honestly,” he said. “We do find homes for dogs. Can we do more of it? That’s what I’m going to explore.”He said he will be contacting private residents and dog-sled rescue groups in an effort to get unwanted dogs adopted. And he will have help: Seth Sachson, director of the Pitkin County Animal Shelter, said he is ready to assist if doomed sled dogs need to be adopted.

While his first priority is to the city of Aspen and the county, “I’m willing to work something out,” Sachson said. “If Pitkin County and the city [gave their permission], I’m always open-minded and willing to work out an arrangement in which I help find homes for Krabloonik dogs.”Critics have assailed MacEachen for a perceived lack of compassion, a charge he denies. He called his operation a “labor of love.”Ursula Shepherd of Valley Dog Rescue was perhaps a typical critic.”This community is very animal-loving. If they will publicize [the animals in need of adoption], these dogs could find homes exactly the same as the greyhounds,” she said. “The greyhound rescue people have made inroads with the greyhound-racing establishment and these dogs are all getting adopted out. Because people have changed, people are not redneck killers the way they used to be 100 years ago. For this to happen in Snowmass is a disgrace.”Doug Mercatoris, Snowmass Village mayor, applauded MacEachen for changing the form of euthanasia he chooses for his animals.

“I agree with that. I’m glad he’s considering it,” he said. “This is a very emotional issue, and it’s a very personal issue as far as how animals are treated, whether it be working animals or animals raised for fur or for food. These are very personal decisions.”Mercatoris said MacEachen is a “very nice man. I think Dan cares very much for his animals.” He added that Krabloonik is a welcome business in Snowmass Village.”We have always considered Krabloonik an amenity for the community,” he said. “It adds another winter activity that is enjoyed by visitors.”Both MacEachen and Sachson said adopting out sled dogs will not be easy. The business owner said his fears remain that animals bred to be tough, independent sled dogs will have a tough transition to living inside a home.Whether a dog is adopted “will have to be evaluated on an individual basis,” he said.

Sachson said “anytime I have a puppy, I can find a home for it, no matter what.” But finding homes for full-grown sled dogs is tougher.”It’s hard, because huskies are a very independent, athletic breed. They’re not the kind of dog you go to Paepcke Park and just throw a tennis ball with,” he said. “They were created to be bad off-leash because they need to run in front of that sled and pull it hard. They don’t have any desire to turn around and say, ‘Hey musher, come here and hug me.’ They’re not for a novice owner. For every husky I have in the shelter, I can adopt out a gazillion labs.”For MacEachen, the criticism has been “a pretty tough thing to take, especially coming from people who don’t have a clue as to what’s really going on. All they’re doing is standing back and taking potshots at me.”I don’t know that it’s going to blow over. Do I wish it would? Absolutely. But in reality that’s not going to happen. I am addressing concerns of people and expanding upon my policy of finding homes for dogs.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is

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