Former sled dog owner sentenced to probation, max fine
The Aspen Times
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
There will be no jail time for Dan MacEachen, the embattled former owner of the Krabloonik dog sledding business who pleaded guilty to neglecting one animal two weeks ago.
MacEachen was sentenced Monday to 30 months of unsupervised probation; a $5,000 fine, the maximum associated with the charge; and 120 hours of public service. And he won’t be allowed to own a dog or an interest in any business that does during his probation.
MacEachen, who has fought allegations of abuse for decades, was charged with eight counts of animal cruelty in December 2013. As the result of an agreement between that office and his attorneys, though, all but one of those charges were dismissed on March 31.
On Monday, friends and family members encouraged Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely to show leniency to a man who they said had already suffered enough. Even Guy Courtney, who was Krabloonik’s general manager for four years and submitted complaints against MacEachen that were used in the District Attorney’s investigation, came forward to ask mercy for his former boss.
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“Dan is a good man,” Courtney said. “I worked closely with him. … The business has been sold. Things have moved forward and onward, and my urging to you, your honor, is kindness, leniency and generosity.”
During his presentation, prosecutor Jason Slothouber said MacEachen’s actions had not been consistent with the values of the community, state regulations regarding pet animal facilities or the law. And this is not the first time allegations of abuse or neglect have been levied against MacEachen, Slothouber said, noting that in 1988 he pleaded no contest to animal cruelty after “viciously beating one of his dogs.”
“There have been lots of problems at this facility for a very long time,” Slothouber said.
Slothouber went on to say that Chief Investigator Lisa Miller was “shocked” after visiting the Krabloonik premises in December 2013. He showed photos of the dog that MacEachen pleaded guilty to neglecting on the day that it was taken from the property and then four days later, when open sores on its muzzle had closed up after he said they had been properly treated.
Defense attorney Greg Greer vouched for his client on the charges that were dismissed, six of which referred to animals that were malnourished and one to another dog in need of medical care. He argued that MacEachen was in the process of addressing issues of malnutrition and health when the District Attorney’s Office searched the property in 2013 but that Krabloonik was in a state of transition with new management and a new brand of food.
Greer too argued that his client had already suffered enough consequences. Because of the charges brought against him, MacEachen, who is 67, sold his business for much less than he expected to when he retired, Greer said. And terms of the plea agreement and a lease between the new owners and the town of Snowmass Village mean that MacEachen will never again own Krabloonik, an “enormous impact” to someone who has made mushing his livelihood, Greer said.
“He has been publicly humiliated and prohibited from going back to what he worked for his entire lifetime,” added Greer, who asked for just one year of probation and no fine for his client.
Judge Fernandez-Ely agreed with the recommendation to not jail MacEachen, saying “Why would I do to him what I don’t want anyone to do to animals or anybody?”
However, deterrence is important, she said, and she compromised between a lengthier probation suggested by Slothouber and one she had in mind, adding the fine and community service as well. She suggested the public service MacEachen chooses should be related to animal welfare but didn’t require it.
No members of Voices for the Sled Dogs, formerly known as Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs, which has spoken out against MacEachen over the years, testified in the courtroom on Monday.
“I sat down with them on behalf of Dan,” Greer said after the hearing. “I think we all worked together to make this transition take place. I think everyone’s happy.
“This has taken a positive direction. I think we want to move forward and encourage that positive direction to continue.”
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