MEIRE GROVE, Minn – A Meire Grove, Minnesota family faces giving up three of their five dogs after the town’s new crackdown of an ordinance limiting the number of dogs to two dogs per family.
“It’s been really hard here, and the kids have been crying this whole week,” said Theiler. “It’s been extremely frustrating, more heartbreaking than frustrating,”
Ashley Theiler and her family own four dogs bred for sled racing, along with a fifth dog that provides emotional support to her 11 year old son, who struggles with anxiety and depression.
“I know other people would say it’s fair because of the law. If we had them before it was made we should probably keep them,” said Logan Smith, Theiler’s son. “They are like family to us, what kind of person wants to take away family?”
Theiler moved to Meire Grove in 2014 and said she checked the ordinances to make sure the law allowed her five dogs. She told KARE 11 she has never received any citations or violations of the town’s noise or loose dog ordinances, keeping her dogs leashed and using bark collars.
In February, Theiler said Meire Grove Mayor Matt Silbernick, who lives two doors away, stopped by her home to announce the enforcement of the dog limit, updated in late 2015.
“The Mayor gave us registration papers back and said we have too many animals and we can’t keep all five and choose the ones we want to keep. We have to get rid of all three of them,” said Theiler.
On Thursday, March 17th, the Meire Grove City Council took public comments on the ordinance at a heated meeting. The Theiler family asked the city council to grandfather their five dogs into the ordinance, passed late last year, since their family has lived in town before the new ordinance was passed.
Theiler also launched an online petition to gain support, gaining 42,000 signatures, but the council and mayor voted to keep the ordinance limiting two dogs. Mayor Silbernick said the ordinance was passed after numerous community complaints from citizens about barking and loose dogs.
“It was hard last night without a doubt everybody had a real hard time. Our good neighbors across the street from us have four dogs too,” said Silbernick. “People voted us in and wanted a result when it came down to it, we opened the doors and listened to everybody.”
The Theiler family didn’t feel their voices were heard, and through tears, 11 year old Logan Smith made one last plea.
“They are like family to us, what kind of person wants to take away family? You shouldn’t ever have to be in this position to give up your own family,” said Smith.
The Theilers’ said giving up their dogs and moving isn’t an option. Having more than two dogs is now considered a misdemeanor offense.
They now plan to consult an attorney.