Woman Hopes To Change Ordinance For Her 22 Sled Dogs

AFTON, Minn. (WCCO) — When you arrive at Mille Porsild’s  place in Afton, you don’t hear dogs. You don’t hear much of anything.

“The reason you couldn’t hear them when you come is because they’re perfectly content,” said Porsild.

She runs Go North! Adventure Learning. Each year, she leads an Arctic expedition which is followed by three million students around the world. The trips wouldn’t happen without Porsild’s dogs — 22 Polar Huskies.

“They’re my life. My life depends on them when I’m on the trail,” said the Denmark-born Porsild.

An Afton ordinance said homeowners can’t have more than five dogs. The city realized Porsild was out of compliance with the city’s kennel ordinance when someone complained.

“Somebody was aware of how many dogs were out there and just kind of felt bad as to how they were being treated because they’re left outside all the time,” said Sara Irvine, the Assistant City Administrator in Afton.

“And sled dogs are treated differently than normal companion dogs, apparently. I’ve learned a lot about sled dogs,” said Irvine.

“They’re not pets, they can’t live inside. They’re working animals,” said Porsild. “That’s the only way they can survive when we go out on the trail and actually do that for day in and day out for months and months.”

City staff and the animal control officer inspected the property and determined that there was no mistreatment of the dogs. The ongoing issue is with the number of dogs located on the property.

“She does have neighbors on her side,” said Irvine.

On Monday night, Porsild presented the Afton Planning Commission with signatures of all of her surrounding neighbors. They’re proposing changes in the ordinance so the sled dogs can stay.

City officials worry it could be a slippery slope.

“If we custom-fit it for her sled dogs, then if somebody wants to come in with some llamas, would we have to do a whole new ordinance for some llamas?” said Irvine.

“If there was a lot of complaints, which there haven’t been in the two-and-a-half years I’ve been here, then I wouldn’t want to be here,” said Porsild. “It’s pretty much that simple.”

There’s a public hearing set for Jan. 3. After that, the Afton Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the city council. Not long after that, Porsild and her dogs will be head to Alaska for a four-month expedition.

Paula Engelking, Producer
Contact Paula

WCCO-TV’s Amelia Santaniello Reports

  • Ron

    Give her a variance for crying out loud.

  • kyle

    Apparently, the person who complained has no knowledge of sled dogs. They LIKE to be OUTSIDE. If you take them in, they will just want to go right back out no matter how cold it is. How stupid. Yet, this “complainers” dog is probably the one in the neighborhood who whines and barks all the time. Get a life you loser. This persons 22 dogs are probably taken care of better than 99% of all dogs in the state.

  • vcolson

    There should be an ordinance about intrusive neighbors who stick their noses into other people’s lives without knowledge of what their complaining about. Perhaps lil’ Mr. or Mrs. busy-body should file complaints about the millions of ‘fido owners’ around the country that never see life without a leash or a tiny back yard. Mille’s right… her dogs are quiet because they’re well cared for, exercised and their needs (working/pulling/running) are met. They’re content. Where are all the complaints about the various Retriever owners who never let their dogs off a three foot rope? Leave Mille alone. She’s one of the few pet owners out there that makes having pets/dogs a priority…. not an afterthought.

  • Yea

    The neighbor who complained is a real jerk!

  • Jason

    Does anyone know or have the address of the person who complained?

    I would like to go over to that persons house to have a little chat with them.

  • TO

    I think we have more important things to worry about……I am an owner of a Husky and this lady is doing a GREAT job of taking care of them :)

  • Nancy Mihalek

    As long as the animals are well cared for and in good health, the property is cared for and the animals are not causing a disturbance it shouldn’t matter how many there are!

  • Justice4ALL

    Most of you are missing the point here. There is a city ordinance to keep everybody happy. Mille ignored the ordinance since day one. You can’t just move anywhere you want with 20+ dogs and get what you want.

    • FactsRule

      I believe you are incorrect that Ms. Porsild was ignoring the ordinance. It has been reported that the City of Afton was aware of the dogs and permitted the keeping of them on the condition that Ms. Porsild start the process of obtaining a conditional use permit this summer when returning from an expedition.

  • ccdirtdawgs

    Justice4ALL – what difference does it make how many dogs a person owns as long as they’re not making themselves a public nuisance? Creating and enacting ordinances that are performance based rather than number based would avoid these silly problems.

  • Justice4ALL

    What difference does it make? O R D I N A N C E. End of story.

  • Dr. Rosset

    The ordinance is anti animal ordinance intended to end all companion animals. No one has the right to tell you what you can own or not own as that is an inalienable right granted by the constitution.

  • Mary Lou

    Dr. Rosset is RIGHT!!

    Now, all breeds are different and the one size fits all laws being made with the push from HSUS and their “ilk” don’t WORK but they work for THEM because they don’t want us to HAVE THEM! (nor any other animals or animal products.

  • DogLover27

    Oh dear God. Why don’t stupid people just butt out of other people’s business. I have no doubt this tattletale person is a card-carrying member of both PETA and the HSUS. They like to tell other people what to do even though they have no idea what they’re talking about.

  • ccdirtdawgs

    So Justice4ALL, it is your belief that we all should cower to and obey an “O R D I N A N C E” for the sake of it’s an “O R D I N A N C E”? If an “O R D I N A N C E” dictates everyone jump off the side of a steep cliff at the stroke of midnight on the new moon, I s’pose you’d be first in line? If it’s all about rules for the sake of rules, maybe you should go over and help resurrect the USSR. This is the USA, which was established and built upon the spirit of only providing as much ‘rule’ as to ensure general public health and safety. This “O R D I N A N C E” of which you’re so fond does nothing to that end.

  • ccdirtdawgs

    I take from your comments Justice4ALL, that it’s all about rules for the sake of rules. Would that be in Afton USSR? Certainly doesn’t follow in the spirit upon which the USA was founded.

  • Patti

    So rules/laws/ordinances only apply to some of the people some of the time…?

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