Snowmass Town Council votes to issue notice of default for Krabloonik dog sledding

Owner requests 30 days to prepare plan to cure default

A sign near the turnoff for Krabloonik Dog Sledding in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
Aspen Times file photo

Krabloonik Dog Sledding isn’t in compliance with at least half of 14 different criteria listed on the Best Practices Plan attached to its lease, according to a June 28 report compiled from the observations of the volunteer Best Practices Review Committee. 

Based on that report, the Snowmass Village Town Council unanimously voted to issue a notice of default for Krabloonik’s lease during a July 5 regular council meeting. Now, it’s time for Krabloonik’s owners to develop a plan for how to address the compliance issues.

“We want a plan in writing on how to address a cure for each of the areas in default from the report, within or at the end of 30 days, and include a timeline with that, from which we will look to cure those items, as per the timeline,” Councilman Bob Sirkus said at the meeting while making the motion to issue a notice of default. Councilman Tom Fridstein seconded the motion. 

Krabloonik has a longer runway on curing this notice of default because of the anticipated time it will take to address the items on the June 28 Best Practices report. 

Town Attorney John Dresser said the lease includes a provision for either a 15-day period to cure a notice of default unless it requires more than 15 days to cure, in which case the tenant can provide a plan to the town with a reasonable timeline for how they plan to execute that.

Krabloonik’s lease with the town states that the tenant should provide the plan to cure the default within 15 days, and that the plan should be to cure the default within “a reasonable additional period of time” as long as the tenant “diligently, continuously and in good faith executes such plan to cure such default at the earliest possible time.” 

Danny Phillips, who co-owns Krabloonik and co-signed the lease with Gina Phillips, requested a 30-day window to prepare his written plan because he wants to make sure he takes the time to create “a plan that makes sense.”

“I don’t want to give you guys a rushed report,” Phillips said. “I don’t — when I made the Best Practices (Plan), that was a rushed decision, and I put in things that I’m eating now, the way the wording is. …  I want to submit a report and a plan to cure that’s not rushed, that’s not something we have to look back on and say, ‘But you said this,’ and ‘this is actually what we’re doing right now.’”

The Best Practices Review Committee includes three Krabloonik-appointed members (Stacy Rothenberg, Andrew Gillis and veterinarian Bisque Jackson) and three town-appointed members (Seth Sachson, Karyn Spiropoulous and Ed Foran). 

According to the agenda summary for Tuesday’s discussion, all the members of the committee — plus some members of town staff — conducted a site visit at Krabloonik on June 6. The visit lasted about three hours (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Phillips “provided a tour of the facility and presented prepared information to the group,” according to the summary. 

Each committee member received an evaluation matrix to complete on their own based on the Best Practices Plan attached to Krabloonik’s lease. Phillips also received a copy of the matrix. 

Town staff compiled the feedback from committee members’ evaluation matrices into the final report, and committee members had the chance to provide comments and update the final report before voting on it at a June 28 meeting to review and vote on the report, according to Town Manager Clint Kinney and committee member Sachson. (Committee member Jackson wasn’t present at the June 28 meeting.)

Four members — Foran, Gillis, Sachson and Spiropoulos — voted to approve the report at the June 28 meeting. Rothenberg dissented. 

Jackson wasn’t present at that meeting, but she did provide input to town staff “indicating that she did not approve of the findings detailed in the report,” according to the agenda summary for the Town Council meeting this week. 

The compiled report reviews 14 different points regarding a wide range of best practices, from an off-tether exercise program to dog nutrition to public education programs to transparency.

Of those 14 criteria, there are seven identified in the report that the majority of the committee does not believe are being met. 

The report indicates noncompliance with a “working pet policy” that states that “often the medical care and attention of our sled dogs at Krabloonik far exceeds that of a normal house pet.” 

It also indicates noncompliance with other animal care and record-keeping criteria for a spay and neuter program, dog records retention, a retirement program, breeding program and “excellent” tethering program. The report notes noncompliance with a public education program but also notes that the criteria for public education “is the least important best practice and should be prioritized as such.” 

Four other criteria are listed as in compliance with provisions for future or ongoing attention. The input regarding on-site care criteria calls for a schedule of staff presence at future inspections; Regarding a list of all registered dogs with town animal control, the report calls for more detailed information to confirm accuracy in the future. 

Krabloonik is listed as compliant with a euthanasia program “provided that every euthanasia continues to be documented and performed by a licensed veterinarian.” 

And on transparency, the report indicates the committee “generally believes this criterion is currently, minimally, being met.”

“The Committee extends caution to the leaseholder about the accuracy of information provided and views this as a continued opportunity for improvement,” the report states. 

On the remaining three criteria — dog nutrition, dog bedding and dog housing — the report indicates that Krabloonik is in compliance. The report gives particular kudos to Krabloonik’s housing based on the needs of dogs and notes on nutrition that “the condition of the dogs is a positive indicator that they are receiving an adequate diet.”

In the report and in the Town Council meeting this week, the vagueness of some language in the Best Practices Plan also came up as a concern; that has been a recurring point from some members of the Best Practices Review Committee throughout the conversation about Krabloonik operations this year.