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After town says no exceptions to 2 dog limit, Stearns County woman plans to sue

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Ashley Theiler hopes her supporters around the world will help her fund a court fight against her tiny town in central Minnesota.

Theiler keeps five dogs at her home – four sled dogs and one that helps her son with medical issues. But the city of Meire Grove has enacted a limit of two dogs per household and ordered Theiler to get rid of the majority of her canines.

Last week the city council rejected her request that pet owners who already have more than two dogs be "grandfathered" in under the ordinance approved last summer.

An online petition Theiler posted has been signed by more than 46,000 supporters.

Only a fraction of them (fewer than 2,000) live in Minnesota, let alone in Meire Grove, which has a population of 180. Theiler wrote last week that the town's mayor commented the petition "was nothing" because it did not come from the people of Meire Grove.

In an update on Sunday Theiler asked her supporters to suggest a name for the GoFundMe campaign she plans to launch to help her cover the costs of a legal challenge.

She told radio station WJON last week signatures on the petition have come from as far away as France and Belgium and called it astounding that so many people care so much about animals they don't know.

'Everybody had a hard time'

Mayor Matt Silberneck told KARE 11 "without a doubt everybody had a hard time" at the council meeting, noting that Theiler's family is not the only one affected by the two dog limit. Silberneck said there have been numerous complaints about barking and loose dogs, although Theiler told the station she's never received a citation.

WJON reported "as many as four" residents said at last week's meeting said the Theilers' dogs have been a nuisance, though some also acknowledged that noise has been less of an issue since the dogs began wearing shock collars last year.

Many cities limit the number of pets residents can own, with ordinances usually citing health and safety reasons.

The League of Minnesota Cities has a 40 page document to guide cities in putting together local rules.

The League says state law gives cities that authority and a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling has upheld it.

However, several local ordinances – including those in Minneapolis and St. Paul –allow residents to apply for special permits to exceed the limit. Meire Grove's does not provide for any permit.

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