Krabloonik’s dog sledding in Snowmass Village has been the subject of state and local investigations as well as ongoing municipal discussions in response to concerns and formal complaints submitted to the Town of Snowmass Village, the Sheriff’s Office of Pitkin County and the Colorado Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA).
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office is awaiting approval of an arrest warrant for a former musher on a misdemeanor animal abuse charge after an incident was videotaped and referred to law enforcement local order.
PACFA investigation finds non-compliance with state regulations
PACFA, a state licensing program, received two complaints about operations, according to program section chief Nick Fisher; the investigation of one of these complaints is ongoing.
Fisher and Inspector Kari Kishiyama reviewed one such complaint, filed by former musher Trevor Ohlstein in mid-January, during an unannounced site visit. January 18.
Fisher and Kishiyama conducted an investigation in response to the complaint and an overall inspection of the facilities as the last inspection was completed in September 2021, Fisher said in a Feb. 22 phone call.
Around this time, Fisher and Kishiyama found Krabloonik to be non-compliant with PACFA regulations due to several violations. related to missing or incomplete documentation, improperly stored food and expired medication on site. Expired topical medications were discarded while Kishiyama was at the scene, but the report said inspectors still needed documentation showing that a 2017 medication had been disposed of.
Incomplete medical records and expired medications were both cited as “direct violations” that “can directly affect the health, safety and well-being of dogs in (Krabloonik’s) care,” the report said. None of those violations related to Ohlstein’s complaint, according to a report by Kishiyama.
Krabloonik had until February 10 to take corrective action on these violations; Fisher said he has yet to see a new report from Kishiyama indicating whether those measures have been submitted. Three other violations related to record keeping and documentation had already been corrected by January 20, according to Kishiyama’s report.
Multiple direct violations “could result in one failed inspection”, and three failed inspections “could result in their license being revoked”, he said.
The investigation into the other complaint is still ongoing, Fisher said. Records are not yet available on an open investigation, according to an email from Michele Barton, administrator of PACFA’s licensing and education unit.
Review panel report identifies ‘abstract’ best practices and broken promises
The town of Snowmass Village also received complaints about the facilities, records show, as did Krabloonik’s Best Practices Review Board.
This committee is reduced to a single member, Seth Sachson, appointed by the city, after the recent resignations of four other members. The Town and Krabloonik are moving forward with the selection of new members: Krabloonik has identified Ed Foran, Blake Greiner and Stacey Rothenburg for their three likely selections, and the Snowmass Village Town Council has identified nominees Bill Fabrocini and Karyn E Spiropoulos as their first two picks in a February 22 meeting.
Sachson filed an eight-page report on February 8 which determined that although “Krabloonik complied with their minimum contractual requirements”, the owners of Krabloonik had “neglected to meet the majority of their promises” which were established in best practices that accompany Krabloonik’s lease with the city. (The Town of Snowmass Village owns Krabloonik and leases the land to the operation for $10 per year until 2026.)
This report comes after a three-page article from January 17 report on the facilities of Sachson and Bland Nesbit, then member of the committee.
The Feb. 8 report says best practices contain “abstract ideas and aspirations” and lack “specific, tangible rules for Krabloonik to follow,” leading to “subjectivity and confusion” about what exactly Krabloonik would look like. delivering on these promises and best practices.
Best practices include certain measures, such as a goal of having no more than 175 dogs in the kennel (there are currently around 200) and a commitment to adopting dogs over 10 years old. But other goals are broader. , such as a commitment to “develop and institute new and modernized standards of care for sled dogs” and an emphasis on “passion”, “love” and “devotion” for dogs.
“A lot of the language in (best practices) has always bothered me because it’s a little fluffy…basically, ‘I’m going to love dogs,'” Sachson said in a phone interview. “Well, how do you define love?”
City staff have begun conversations with Sachson to discuss how these best practices could be solidified, City Manager Clint Kinney said in a Feb. 21 phone call. The Best Practices Review Committee can make suggestions to the city on how to change Best Practices, under the terms of Krabloonik’s lease.