Snowmass sled-dog business in abuse case to be transferred to new owner

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SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colorado — A sled-dog business at the center of an animal abuse case has been cleared for transfer to a new owner.

The Snowmass Village Town Council voted unanimously Monday to approve a temporary agreement for the owner of the Krabloonik sled-dog business to sell the operation.

Owner Dan MacEachen faces eight misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty related to his alleged treatment of the dogs. He has denied the accusations.

MacEachen plans to transfer the business to Danny and Gina Phillips, who have managed the kennel and the business' restaurant for the past year. The sale price has not been disclosed.

The stock purchase agreement calls for MacEachen to give up ownership and be "completely and utterly removed from the operation at this point," said Town Attorney John Dresser.

Snowmass Village town holds the lease for the land on which Krabloonik operates and must give final approval of its transfer, The Aspen Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1yfNkXF ).

Whether the couple gets the lease permanently will likely be decided next year. Dresser suggested it should happen after the town has gone through a due-diligence period with the Phillips and held public conversations on what the community wants to see in Krabloonik. The decision also could come after the conclusion of MacEachen's criminal case.

"They understand the risk they're taking," Dresser said, noting the Phillips have to prove they can run Krabloonik with best practices. "How can we make this a real asset to the community instead of a detrimental public relations . nightmare?"

The Phillips have a long-term goal of reducing the number of dogs from roughly 225 to 170, through breeding practices and adoption.

They are also phasing out short-haired dogs in favor of more stereotypical sled-dog breeds like huskies; bringing dogs thought to be suffering from the cold indoors; starting round-the-clock feedings to help keep the animals warm; and a rotating hour of off-tether time to let the dogs roam the grounds.

MacEachen was charged in December 2013, a few days after officials seized eight dogs that were allegedly underweight or in need of emergency veterinarian care. A trial is currently set for May.

The transfer of the lease may help prosecutors "resolve the case in a manner that spares the ongoing business concerns, the town's image and keep it a business asset and amenity for people who don't like to ski," Dresser said.

Basalt attorney David Myler, representing MacEachen, said he believes "we're on the cusp of a transition away from a troubled past and toward a very bright future for what is truly a unique resort amenity that we need to preserve as best we can."


Information from: Aspen Daily News, http://www.aspendailynews.com

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