“The owners adoption program is a lie,” was the opening statement in an anonymous e-mail I received on September 27th 2017 at 11:26 PM. “The only dogs that have left are dogs taken by former employees.”
This in and of itself was not surprising, as Krabloonik had 50 dogs “available for adoption” when Dan and Gina Phillips took over in December of 2014. Many of these dogs have never been accounted for – see our previous article for their photographs. However, it’s what the rest of the e-mail had to say that caused me to get out of bed and boot up my laptop, at nearly midnight on a work night.
Dogs that become sick without a vet knowing die chained up and their bodies are thrown off the outside perimeter of the kennel. This is how the owners have reduced the amount of dogs while saving money on vet bills and covering their tracks. Other dogs who become sick are chained until their illness becomes sever. The owners then will contact a vet once the dog is nearly dead to justify euthanization. The owners also lie about the ages of the sick dogs, saying they are twice as old to the vet to help justify euthanization. The off chaining exercise is non existent in the off season. The majority of dogs stay chained up the ENTIRE off season and do not receive any interaction. The owners lie about this because no one actually checks or watches to see if this happens. The owners employ as low as one person to work at the kennel of over 210 dogs during the off season. The owners do not train or interact with the dogs – period – and do not know the majority of their names (90+%). The owners rarely go down to the kennel unless there is a public photo-shoot or event. All of this is possible because no one is checking them. The owners preach to the public about caring and being involved when in truth, they do horrible things behind the scenes and rarely come to work. The owners are con artists who are neglecting the dogs for their own personal profit. New cars, houses, dirt bikes, four wheelers, hot tubs, etc. The owners are a shame to the rest of the dog sledding business. The board members in charge of watching them are never around. The board members do not actually do anything, showing up to the kennel once a year, not actually witnessing anything they have told you. The board members take the owners’ words for fact and that’s it. Whomever you have spoken to has lied about everything to you. PACFA also shows up once a year and does not check ANYTHING. These people will lie and manipulate in any way they can to make it appear otherwise. Keep digging.
So, of course, I dug.
The following is from the Revised and Amended Krabloonik Lease and Option (Page 5 of 12) Town Council Resolution, dated March 16th 2015:
11. BEST PRACTICES REVIEW COMMITTEE: The Landlord and Tenant shall establish a Best Practices Review Committee (the “BPRC”) comprised of six members. The members of the BPRC shall either be residents of the Town of Snowmass Village or shall be residents of the Roaring Fork Valley who are knowledgeable and experienced in the care and treatment of dogs. The owners of Krabloonik, Inc. shall not be members of the BPRC. The Landlord shall select three members and Tenant shall select three members of the BPRC and both Landlord and Tenant shall select committee members with the intent to create a fair and balanced committee.
a. No less than quarterly, the members of the BPRC, either collectively or individually, shall inspect and review the operation of the Krabloonik Kennels to determine the extent to which Tenant is complying with the Best Practices. The BPRC shall annually prepare a report based on Best Practices compliance which shall be addressed to the Town Manager and distributed to the Town Council. The Annual report may include suggestions for modifications or clarifications to the Best Practices.
After hours of sifting through the Town of Snowmass Village (TOSV) public portal, I decided to contact them regarding the documents I was seeking (which, according to their Revised Lease [above], are supposed to be provided to the Town Council annually):
Low and behold, I actually received an e-mail from the Town Manager:
So I e-mailed the Town Clerk with my records request.
She was out-of-office, so I e-mailed the Town Attorney.
The Town Attorney actually responded, giving me a little hope for actually acquiring these so-called public records.
The report I finally received is as follows:
The Best Practices Committee is supposed to inspect the kennel no less than quarterly, and prepare a follow-up report annually. There is no report for 2015 or 2017 – and we’d like to know why.
Working with the only report we have, we take a look at a some disturbing facts. In the aforementioned 2016 report, it states that “when the temperature is cooler than 75 degrees, dogs get off tether time & free running daily for one hour on the property.” This coincides with what Dan and Gina told ABC Nightline in their September interview: “In the off season, the dogs are allowed to run free for an hour a day. Gina and Danny admit they’re tethered for the other 23, but insist they’re happy.”
When we do the math, the figures are horrifying. Krabloonik states (http://bit.ly/2mWoKy2) that their dogsledding season is from November 1st to May 1st. So from May through October, the off-season permits the 1 hour of off-chain time as described in both the Nightline interview and the Best Practices Committee statement. With these facts in mind:
- There are 184 total days in the off-season for Krabloonik’s sled dogs.
- There are 4,416 total hours in the off-season for Krabloonik’s sled dogs.
- If we assume that the weather permits them to be let off-chain each day during the off-season for 1 hour, that means Krabloonik’s sled dogs are chained for a total of 4,232 hours in the off-season. This equates to 176.3 days chained.
- Therefore, at the very least (considering that the US Climate Database lists the off-season in 2017 as having 58 days where the temperature was over 75 degrees in Aspen), Krabloonik’s sled dogs are chained for at least 95.8% of the off-season, from May to November.
When asked what had changed from when Dan MacEachen owned Krabloonik, Dan Philips stated: “The love. Yanno, really – we love these dogs. Every minute, every waking minute with these dogs is just love.”
However, the conditions shown in the Nightline interview, the e-mail from an anonymous alleged employee, the fact that the dogs are chained for over 95% of the off-season, and the following PACFA cruelty reports – made just a couple of weeks before the Nightline interview – prove otherwise.
As we enter the busiest tourist season in Colorado, those of us involved in the humane mushing movement are very concerned for Krabloonik’s dogs. There appears to be no accountability for enforcement of the requirements set forth when the kennel remained open after having the previous owner convicted of animal cruelty. Video filmed by ABC Nightline crews clearly shows us that many of the previous poor conditions still exist, even under new ownership. The dog population is going up, not down. There is no open-door policy in effect. Even tourists are taking to social media to denounce care and conditions at this kennel (http://bit.ly/2xDFxZV). Why, in 2017, when there is a national campaign to end dog chaining, are we seeing these issues persisting at Krabloonik? And why, when the abuse which runs rampant in the sport is hitting mainstream media and film, is the general public not outraged?
We have reached out to the Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Mayor of Snowmass Village, and Colorado Department of Agriculture with our concerns. If you have a concern, or information to add, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org