Snowmass Village Town Council appoints Foran to Krabloonik review committee | AspenTimes.com
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Snowmass Village Town Council appoints Foran to Krabloonik review committee

Longtime valley resident, former musher notes observations, recommendations in letter to town

A Krabloonik morning dog sled tour traverses Divide Road in Snowmass Village on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The Snowmass Village Town Council has officially appointed Ed Foran to the six-member Krabloonik Best Practices Review Committee, filling a position that opened up in early May when Bill Fabrocini resigned.

Mayor Bill Madsen, Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk and Councilmen Tom Fridstein and Tom Goode approved the appointment at a May 16 meeting; Councilman Bob Sirkus was absent.

Foran was initially expected to be appointed by Krabloonik earlier this year, when the town set out to reconstitute the committee that had dwindled to just one member, Seth Sachson.



Public records show that Foran submitted a short biography to Krabloonik co-owner Danny Phillips earlier this year and visited the kennel last November, but Foran ultimately wasn’t selected as one of three Krabloonik appointees to the committee.

Krabloonik appointed Stacy Rothenberg, Andrew GIllis and veterinarian Bisque Jackson to the board in March. Phillips wrote in a May 17 email to the Snowmass Sun that he “thought it was important to diversify the board and bring in more people that did not know each other well.”




Before Foran’s three-decade tenure in the Roaring Fork Valley, he also lived for 14 years in Alaska — 10 of which he spent as a competitive dog musher, according to a letter Foran submitted to the town on April 20 that was included in this week’s council packet.

He has remained in “close contact” with his fellow mushers from that time and has “seen the care of sled dogs evolve dramatically in a positive direction” since his time in Alaska.

Foran also served as a liaison between the Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs activist group and former Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen, and about seven years ago conducted a character study of Stuart Mace, whose sled dog operation at Toklat at Ashcroft would evolve into Krabloonik in Snowmass Village. (Mace gave 55 dogs from his kennel to MacEachen in 1974.)

Foran’s letter to the town also included several observations and recommendations from the kennel visit, many of which align with the recommendations and observations of current committee member Sachson and former committee member Fabrocini, among others. (Sachson’s and Fabrocini’s recommendations were “remarkably on-point with modern dog-care practices for the Alaskan husky,” Foran wrote.)

Foran’s comments, he wrote, were “based on thousands of miles on the back of a dog sled and raising and training my own sled dogs.”

He observed that “the overall weight and condition of the dogs was vastly improved from Dan MacEachen’s era” and senior dogs were ”well fed“ but also “in advanced stages of arthritis and other ailments which become exacerbated in our cold winter conditions,” Foran wrote.

He noted that “a very high percentage of the ‘igloo’ dog houses were heavily damaged” and seemed to not be “designed to withstand the normal wear and tear of sled dog housing.”

Foran wrote that the number of dogs at the kennel — around 200 at the time he visited in November — would call for “a much larger staff than currently exists to provide adequate care.” The current count at the kennel is a few dozen dogs less, Phillips told council in early May.

Foran recommended reducing the size of the kennel, increasing off-tether time and creating an indoor/outdoor dog barn for times “when extreme cold or wet conditions are too harsh and a dog house is inadequate.” He also expressed safety concerns about the ingress and egress for the dog-sledding route at Krabloonik.

Increasing off-tether time “builds an unbreakable bond between the dogs and their musher” and “also helps the dogs socially and emotionally,” Foran wrote; it would also help “ease the transition to being a retired house pet” for dogs who are adopted out. He also wrote that the current recordkeeping systems at Krabloonik are “haphazard and unverifiable.” (Recordkeeping was a thorn in the side of an April Town Council discussion about Krabloonik programs.)

Foran expressed in the letter that he had “little confidence” that Phillips would have a desire or interest “in making the necessary improvements to Krabloonik that would make Stuart Mace and the town of Snowmass VIllage proud.”

Phillips wrote in an email that he first read Foran’s recommendations on Monday when the letter was included in this week’s council packet.

When asked how interested or willing Phillips would be to adapt to Foran’s recommendations, Phillips wrote that “many of Ed’s ideas are completely changing the structure of the business,” which he believes is “beyond the scope of what this (Best Practices Review Committee) is about.”

Krabloonik’s lease with the town includes provisions for the committee to provide “suggestions for modifications or clarifications to the Best Practices (Plan)” that is attached to the lease, which includes “best practices” for off-tether time, adoption, spay and neuter and retirement programs.

The committee also “may submit reports to the Town Manager describing any circumstances or events which the BPRC believes violate the Best Practices or jeopardize the health, safety or well-being of the Krabloonik sled dogs,” the lease states. The town manager then reviews those reports with Krabloonik.

Then, “based upon such reports, Landlord and Tenant shall periodically evaluate, in good faith, the need to modify or clarify the Best Practices for the purpose of implementing reasonable measures to improve the quality of life of the Krabloonik sled dogs,” the lease states.

At a May 2 Town Council meeting, officials requested that the reconstituted committee meet and write a new report before moving forward with any other action on that section of the lease. That report must come from the group as a whole, Town Attorney John Dresser said at the time.

Sachson confirmed via a text message that the committee was meeting virtually on Tuesday night and would “then choose a date in the near future for a site visit to Krabloonik.”

This story is part of ongoing coverage of the operations at Krabloonik Dog Sledding. For more stories, visit snowmasssun.com.

kwilliams@aspentimes.com

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