Snowmass can end lease with Krabloonik if laws are broken | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass can end lease with Krabloonik if laws are broken

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

The town of Snowmass Village can terminate its lease with Krabloonik if the restaurant and dogsledding operation is found to be breaking the law.

Krabloonik must comply with federal, state and municipal laws, according to the terms of the lease. The lease also states that if the tenant defaults on any of its conditions, the town as landlord can re-enter the premises and terminate the lease.

Town Manager Gary Suiter will review the terms of the lease with the Town Council on Monday. Three of the elected officials asked for a summary of the lease after public comments at their Oct. 7 meeting alleging dog abuse at the kennels.

Allegations of animal abuse at Krabloonik resurfaced last month during a child-custody court hearing held in Glenwood Springs. However, no one has filed a complaint with the authorities since the last council meeting, Chief Art Smythe said Thursday. Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen also has denied the allegations.

The Snowmass Village municipal code specifically prohibits cruelty to animals.

"An owner or person commits cruelty to animals if he or she knowingly or with criminal negligence overdrives, overloads, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, needlessly mutilates, needlessly kills, carries or confines in or upon any vehicles in a cruel or reckless manner, or otherwise mistreats or neglects any animal … or, having the charge or custody of any animal, fails to provide it with proper food, drink or protection from the weather, or abandons it," the code states.

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Some of the allegations that have come out during and after the court hearing specify actions that would violate the law.

"The owner … picked up a dog by its tail and collar and beat it against a doghouse until bones were broken and the dog died. Dan did not know he had killed the dog and threw the dog back in its house," Leigh Vogel, of Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs, read from a statement by a former musher at the Oct. 7 meeting. Vogel is also a photographer for The Aspen Times but was speaking as a citizen.

Former musher Curtis Hungate said during the court hearing in September that he'd witnessed a dog "die from hypothermia." He also related numerous anecdotes of MacEachen beating dogs.

Hungate was seeking to prevent Bryna Erwin MacEachen, a Krabloonik employee, from bringing the child they have together to the kennel now that he is no longer employed there.

MacEachen replied "no" when Hungate asked him if he'd ever been accused of neglecting or abusing dogs.

"I'd say he's been a very disgruntled employee, apparently an ex-employee at this point," MacEachen said when called to the stand a second time, after Hungate's testimony.

Council members Jason Haber, Markey Butler and Chris Jacobson were all in favor on Oct. 7 of finding out how the town as landlord could respond to the allegations.

Councilman Fred Kucker and Mayor Bill Boineau requested that witnesses report the allegations to the Snowmass Village police. Vogel said she would relay that information to the eyewitnesses, but so far, none of them has contacted the police, Smythe said Thursday.

Krabloonik also is regulated by the state under the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act. A state inspector who made a routine visit to the kennels in March 2011 cited no violations, according to the inspection report.

Guy Courtney, general manager of Krabloonik, has said he currently is negotiating to purchase the business from MacEachen. The lease also states that MacEachen must gain written consent from the town to transfer the lease until 2016. After that, MacEachen still must get permission, but the town cannot withhold consent if the new lessee is a "qualified operator."