Could Meire Grove, Minnesota, population 179, be the unhappiest place on earth? If you are a dog owner, you may believe so. This is the unfriendly Minnesota town that is forcing people to give up their cherished pets.
Until a month ago, the Theiler family had been living happily in Meire Grove with their five well-behaved dogs, never having received even a single noise or barking complaint.
Then, the world as they knew it crashed down. In early March, the town’s mayor, Matt Silbernick, who just happened to live two doors down from the Theiler family, personally came over to deliver the family the news that left them reeling. Ashley Theiler recounted how they found out.
“He came to the door and he gave us our licensing papers back that have all of the dog’s spay and neuter certificates all of their rabies shots, the money for registration…he brought ’em back and he said you have too many dogs, you have to get rid of three of them, now pick the two you want to keep and then give me the paperwork back.”
Immediately, they asked if they could be grandfathered in, as they had just moved to Meire Grove in 2014, and they had not violated any sort of restriction on pets. Silbernick’s response? Dismissive.
“Nope, not gonna happen.”
This declaration shattered the family. How can they select just two dogs? One of the dogs is a therapy dog for their son Logan. His dog helps him with his anxiety and depression. Their other four dogs are huskies used as sled dogs. This should not be of any surprise, as they live in a rural area of Minnesota, the snowy and cold state where snow dogs are as essential to winter as a shovel.
This lack of community is a huge shock to many people in the larger twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, just over an hour away. Even in those metropolitan areas, five dogs are allowed with a permit. This is a time where people are purposely moving to smaller towns like Meire Grove so that they can enjoy larger yards for domestic pets, and maybe a chicken coop and a garden. In the video from the local station, who interviewed Ashley posted below, there appears to be ample space for the Theiler dog pack, as well as plenty of room between the homes, including the nearby mayor’s home.
The reporters in this video even pointed out that the dogs did not bark once during this entire interview.
In a separate interview, Mayor Silbernick did not name the Theiler dogs, but stated that he received complaints from people calling the dogs in Meire Grove a “nuisance.”
“When I got all the calls, and everything got directed to me, I had to go to the council and say, ‘Hey, what do we do? If everyone would control their dogs barking and stuff, I really feel that we wouldn’t have had to do any of it.”
Again, although the Theiler dogs had never received any complaints, the decision to restrict the amount of dogs per home to two appears to focus on the only two families in this town that own more than two dogs. One does not need to be a dog expert to know that even a single dog can be quite vocal, and limiting two dogs to one family does not guarantee quiet. If the concern was really about noise, then they could have created a noise ordinance. As there are only two families in Meire Grove with more than 2 dogs, some on Twitter have stated that the town of Meire Grove is quite mean spirited towards these two families.
Just a few days ago, the city council in Meire Grove voted 2-1 to not allow any sort of grandfathering of the dogs and the Theiler family could be facing misdemeanor charges or even jail time. Dog owners all over the world are shocked to read about the heartless town council has just recently voted 2-1 to not allow the Theiler family to keep all five of their dogs.
Meanwhile, the family has not given up. There is a petition with nearly 60,000 names, as well as a new Change.org petition for people in Minnesota and all over the world to sign as well as a GoFundMe page to help assist the family with mounting legal fees.
[Photo by GJMakitalo/GMD]