Krabloonik review committee close to forming in Snowmass |

Krabloonik review committee close to forming in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Gina and Danny Phillips, who purchased Krabloonik in December, harness dogs to a sled earlier this winter.
Aubree Dallas/Aspen Times |

A committee to review Krabloonik’s adherence to regulations and established best practices is close to forming in Snowmass Village.

A condition of the dogsledding business’s lease with the town, the committee is supposed to consist of six members, three chosen by the town and three by Krabloonik. At a work session Oct. 12, owners Danny and Gina Phillips and the three council members present agreed on a selection of six who will be formally confirmed once some legal details are worked out.

Those six are: Seth Sachson, director of the Aspen Animal Shelter; Dr. Oneal Peters, an area veterinarian; Old Snowmass resident Bob Helm; Rebecca Knight, a Basalt resident and former musher; Bland Nesbit, a Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter board member; and Snowmass Village resident Sarah Hart.

“It feels like a natural fit for me,” said Sachson, who already has a long history with Krabloonik. He moved to the valley in 1992 to be a musher at Krabloonik and has kept up a relationship with the business over the years, accepting retired dogs at the shelter and, with the Friends nonprofit’s help, facilitating a spay-and-neuter program for the business under its new ownership.

Sachson also has been a resource for the Phillipses, who bought the business a year ago in the midst of an animal-abuse case against founder Dan MacEachen. The Phillipses have made efforts to improve the well-being of the dogs through changes great and small, from new doghouses to downsizing the pack through adoption, spaying and neutering.

The Phillipses committed to many of those improvements when working out their lease with the town, which after years of allegations and negative publicity surrounding the kennel wanted to create more oversight for the business. The Best Practices Review Committee’s purpose is to review and inspect Krabloonik’s operations, monitoring its adherence to agreed-upon practices.

The owners and the council members are in full agreement on the six members they will select, said Danny Phillips, who also thinks the group has a balance of community members and experts.

“We all agreed on the six people,” he said. “We worked together and found that was the best team. It’s a well-rounded group.”

Rebecca Knight applied through the town but was chosen by the Phillipses. Knight is a recreational sledding racer who recently moved to Basalt from Alaska, where she worked in the industry for many years.

Knight, who has some familiarity with Krabloonik as a visitor to Aspen for many years, noted that she has seen kennels that were “unacceptable” and others that were “four-star.”

“I’m all about dogs being well taken care of and having a great quality of life,” Knight said.

The committee was scheduled to be formally confirmed today, but the town and Krabloonik are working on how to define the nature of the committee and what the Town Council’s role in appointing it should be. Neither party anticipates changing the members selected, though.