Former Snowmass sled dog leads new life

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times
Colorado Department of Agriculture/Courtesy photo |

The dog that former Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen pleaded guilty to neglecting or mistreating on Tuesday is living a new life in Glenwood Springs.

Harvey, called Comet while at the Colorado Animal Rescue facility in Glenwood, was seized from the Krabloonik premises in December 2013 when inspectors found him with an open sore on his nose. His condition became the premise for one of eight animal-cruelty charges brought against MacEachen, who pleaded guilty to one charge on Tuesday and will be sentenced on April 13.

It remains unclear what caused the injury on Harvey’s face or other sores found on his legs, said his new owner Claudia Putnam, of Glenwood Springs.

“He’s got some pretty bad scarring on his face and also on his legs,” Putnam said. “Those ones on his face were pretty bad. They were open, definitely infected.”

Putnam and her husband Tony Passariello took Harvey home in July of last year, after he had spent about seven months at CARE. While there, various volunteers walked him and the other dogs, and Harvey spent some time at a foster home.

“It’s really important, the job that they do socializing the animals, being that halfway house, that transition,” Putnam said.

Harvey ran away from his foster family at one point, an experience Putnam thinks he learned from. Once she adopted him, he ran off once in the first week but only made it about a block before coming back to her.

“I think it was a good experience because he learned, ‘Oh my god, I don’t know what to do out here,’ and then he was captured and he learned that he was safer with people,” Putnam said.

Harvey and the family cat got along quickly, she said. He loves to play fetch, take long hikes and join his owners on backcountry ski trips.

“He’s really a fun dog to have,” Putnam said. “He’s very patient. He’s very calm. He’s just sweet, a very sweet, proud dog.”

Leslie Rockey, executive director of CARE, didn’t comment specifically on Wednesday about Harvey’s veterinary care while at the facility but said she receives updates from Putnam often.

“To see their (all eight dogs’) transformation is pretty incredible,” Rockey said. “And to now see (Harvey) at a healthy weight and happy and interacting with people.”

There are still moments, though, when Harvey will retreat into himself, Putnam said. They’re becoming fewer and farther between, but at times he will suddenly become more timid.

He hates sleeping outside in the cold and pushes his bed right up against the baseboard.

“He can’t believe that he can come in at night,” Putnam said. “It’s like something he celebrates. As soon as he comes in, he does this little dance.”

Krabloonik dogs sleep outside in their kennels, although since Danny and Gina Phillips took over operation of the business, they have added shavings to the kennels for insulation and bring in certain dogs on very cold nights. The couple has made other changes regarding the animals’ care, too, which are outlined in their lease with the town of Snowmass Village for the land Krabloonik operates on. That lease becomes effective once the case against MacEachen is resolved.

Justice for Harvey

The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment as to why the charge referring to Harvey was the one that it and MacEachen’s attorneys agreed he would plead guilty to. Putnam speculated that the photos taken of Harvey’s condition the day he was taken from Krabloonik might have been too powerful to argue with.

“I think everyone feels like there could have been more, and that who knows what the sentencing will be and that there could have been more things that he was held to the fire for,” Putnam said of Tuesday’s disposition. “But I’m certainly glad that Harvey’s been answered for and certainly glad that Krabloonik is no longer in his hands so that this particular chapter is being closed.”

Putnam joked that MacEachen could be charged with picking up dog poop on the Smuggler Mountain as part of his sentencing.

“The best thing I think is for the dogs to find good homes and for the current operation to set a good example for what the best practices in dogsledding can be,” she said.

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