MEIRE GROVE -- A Meire Grove family is in a fight to keep their five dogs following a recent city ordinance passed in the town.

Ashley Theiler and her family moved to Meire Grove with their four dogs: Smokey, Cricket, Josie, and Max in 2014. They then added a weeks-old purebred husky, Valkyrie, in August of last year.

Earlier this month, Theiler received word of a newly passed city ordinance that limits the number of dogs allowed on a property to two.

"We should be grandfathered in, it's not like we were doing anything illegal (before the ordinance passed)," Theiler says. "Now they made it a misdemeanor for us to even keep them and it's punishable by fines and even jail time."

A grandfather clause is a clause exempting people from the requirements of a piece of legislation that hinders their previously held rights, privileges, or practices. But Theiler says the city's mayor has dismissed any thoughts of grandfathering them in.

"He said, 'you have too many dogs, you have to get rid of three of them so pick the two you're going to keep'," Theiler says. "We said something about being grandfathered in and he [said] 'nope, not going to happen'."

Photo: Ashley Theiler

Theiler says it's unfair for her family to be forced by a new law to make an impossible choice of which dogs to keep.

"To me, there's not one dog that's worth less than another -- so, I can't decide."

In response, Theiler started an online petition to try and gain support.

"Our goal was 1,000 signatures and I thought there's no way I'm ever going to get [there]," Theiler says. "Then it just kept going and when it got to 15,000 signatures, I was [shocked]."

At the time of this story, the number of signatures was nearing 33,000 -- from all around Minnesota, the United States, and even from countries like France and Belgium.

"I think it's absolutely amazing," Theiler says. "To see that there are people who actually care that much about animals that they don't know is astounding."

"It actually shows that there are good human beings with really big hearts."

Theiler says she plans on using the over 40 pages of Minnesota signatures on the petition as well as arguing the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution (which prohibits seizure of property without due process) at the city council meeting on Thursday (March 17th).

"I'm hoping they will grandfather us in," Theiler says. "And if they don't, I'm just going to have to try harder."

Theiler says she is prepared to take the matter to court if the city won't allow her family keep the dogs.