Carroll: Maybe Krabloonik probe will clear the air | AspenTimes.com

Carroll: Maybe Krabloonik probe will clear the air

It's not often that our District Attorney's Office sends out a press release about a search warrant that it just executed, much less provides the media with court documents related to the investigation.

Usually it's the media's responsibility to independently collect information about criminal probes, whether they involve petty theft or rape. But Friday morning, the 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office made it easy for the local press outlets by arming them with details about its Thursday search of Krabloonik, the Snowmass Village dog-sledding outfit that's been hammered publicly with accusations of cruelty to animals.

It's about time. Finally, and hopefully, the community will get some definitive answers about Krabloonik's dog sledding operation, rather than the onslaught of conjecture and accusations making the headlines the last few months — and years.

A majority of our readers has expressed dismay that The Aspen Times has not covered this story more thoroughly with every new detail and allegation that surfaces; and a scant few have criticized our reporting as one-sided by expressing only the views of former disgruntled mushers and over-reactive residents.

Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen, who hasn't returned our phone calls seeking comment, certainly has been getting it on both sides: He's either a face of cruelty with an utter disregard for his dogs, or a kind and revered figure in the mushing world, depending on whom you talk to.

The same goes for Guy Courtney, Krabloonik's former general manager, who has brought forth a slew of the eye-popping allegations of dog abuse: Either his cause has been true and righteous, or he originally introduced these accusations in a failed ploy to force MacEachen to sell Krabloonik to him below its fair-market cost.

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Yet questions about Krabloonik's operations have persisted for years, if not decades. This is a story that drifts in and out of the news pages every five or so years, and the pattern is usually the same: Put simply, first are the allegations of dog abuse, then the authorities' involvement in the matter, then a public outcry and then the story fades away, out of the public conscious.

But it feels different this time around, largely because the district attorney is involved. However, based on reactions I've seen to the weekend story about the dogs and other items that were collected from Krabloonik, as well as the public outrage in the past few months, you'd think the outfit is guilty before it has even been charged.

It's easy to jump to conclusions on an emotional issue such as this one. Just because dogs were seized does not mean guilt on MacEachen's behalf or any one else. And just because a search warrant was executed does not mean charges will be filed.

I won't hazard to call this a witch hunt, because beyond all of the grandstanding and posturing on both sides of the Krabloonik fence, there have been others who have invested time and energy over the years taking a rational look at the kennel and its operations. Sensing an injustice in our own backyard, Voices of Krabloonik has spent untold hours scrutinizing Krabloonik's practices, unearthing troubling clues of abuse while attempting to have MacEachen improve the treatment of the dogs.

With the District Attorney's Office now involved, perhaps now we can get to the heart of the matter. If you think Krabloonik was a political issue before, the DA's involvement only assures that.

In many instances politics can spell doom — whether it's on Capitol Hill or in your own work office. But when it comes to Krabloonik, those with a dog in the fight should rest assured the advent of politics in this issue might finally bring about some permanent resolution.

Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at rcarroll@aspentimes.com.

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