Breaking the silence on Krabloonik

by Doug Allen, Aspen Daily News Columnist
Finally, things are starting to happen regarding the accusations of abuse and neglect at Krabloonik. Former general manager Guy Courtney and former musher Curtis Hungate stood true to what they said at the Snowmass Village Town Council meeting Monday and filed reports with the police department on Tuesday.

Courtney and Hungate deserve full credit for breaking the cycle of silence and apathy among current and former employees by telling police what they witnessed at the dog sledding operation. They are the first to do so within the one-year statute of limitations for animal cruelty charges. Courtney also said that seven other mushers will be filing police reports soon, and haven’t done so only because they are currently out of state.

But they’re not the only ones who deserve credit. After attending the Snowmass town council meeting on Monday, I was concerned that even if they did file the police reports, there was a possibility the Snowmass police department would fail to thoroughly investigate the allegations.

You may have read in this paper that District Attorney Sherry Caloia opened an investigation into the allegations on Tuesday. That’s because I called Caloia Tuesday morning to express my concerns and asked her to get involved. She didn’t even hesitate.

Within two hours, I got a call from her investigator, asking what I knew about the situation at Krabloonik. I was shocked that it only took Caloia a few hours to do what the Snowmass police department refused to do for months, and she didn’t need a complaining witness to investigate the allegations that have been swirling for a while. It seems the voters of the 9th Judicial District made the right call when they booted Martin Beeson in favor of Caloia in the last election.

So what will Caloia’s investigation uncover? I don’t know all of it, but I do know some details. I spoke with Courtney Wednesday and he confirmed many of the stories I’d been hearing for months.

Courtney told me about Fernando, the short-haired dog he claims froze to death at Krabloonik last winter, which he detailed in his statement to police. He said it was clear the dog died of exposure as it had no wounds and there was no other indication of injury. He said the mushers took Fernando inside the night before his death because they were concerned about his well-being.

“The next morning [Krabloonik owner] Dan MacEachen sees the dog inside and tells the mushers to put him back out,” Courtney said in an interview. “They put the dog out, and he died that night. It’s a typical example of Dan’s behavior towards these animals. It was one of those appalling experiences. It didn’t need to happen, shouldn’t have happened, and we could have stopped it from happening.”

I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on at Krabloonik. In the coming weeks and months, I suspect we will see a chorus of voices of former employees rising up against MacEachen and his alleged actions at Krabloonik, and that the stories will be more than most of us can bear to hear.

Doug Allen thinks Snowmass Village Town Council is culpable for what happens on the town’s land. Reach him via email at, or follow him on Twitter @Doug__Allen (two underscores).