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The end of the trail for Afton sled dogs

In just two weeks, Afton resident Mille Porslid will be embarking on a four-month expedition to Alaska, but another task will be gnawing at the back of her mind: where is she going to live?

Porslid, who currently houses 19 sled dogs on her property, has only one month to find a new home for her dogs since Afton City Council rejected her proposed kennel ordinance amendments.

The topic of Porslid and her dogs was brought up during the Feb. 15 City Council meeting when Council Member Bill Palmquist made a motion to reconsider whether or not to send the amendments back to the Afton Planning Commission for review.

Palmquist said he made the motion because Nolz was absent during last month's meeting.

Last month, City Council denied approval of Porslid's proposal, which would allow her to house her 19 sled dogs in an outdoor kennel, as well as a request to send the ordinance back to the Planning Commission.

The request for reconsideration failed 2-2. Mayor Pat Snyder and Council member Peg Nolz cast the "no" votes. Council member Randy Nelson was absent.

"That's the end of it," Snyder said.

Stray sled dogs

Porslid, in an interview after the meeting, said she was very surprised by last Tuesday's vote.

"I was really floored," she said. "I didn't see that coming."

Porslid said she was optimistic going into the meeting because a majority of planning commissioners wanted the ordinance back, and she had previously received support from Nolz, who was the unknown vote.

Porslid said Nolz lives across the street for her.

"I simply can't fathom why they don't want to continue it if there's a majority of the Planning Commission that want to look at it," she said. "I have no idea why they made the choices they did -- I was really saddened."

City Council gave Porslid 60 days to remove her dogs from her property. However, Porslid said she has not had time to even think about moving since she is currently fundraising and preparing for her expedition with the non-profit education organization GoNorth Adventure Learning.

"No, I don't know where I'm going or how I'll go," she said. "I don't have time to respond to this right now, but I'll have to put the dogs somewhere else when I return."

Porslid, who rents her house in Afton, said it is a very scary thought to think that she will have to find a new house as soon as she gets back.

Porslid previously said it is not an option for her to live on the property without her dogs.

Porslid said she has already been invited to several communities.

Porslid hasn't completely given up hope though. She said she is hopeful that either the Planning Commission, or other people in the community, will work toward a solution.

"I have a hope that the Planning Commission acts on their convictions. I have hope there are people in this community that will stand up for it," she said. "I'm not saying this is the end of the road."

Since Porslid will be hitting the trail in just a couple short weeks, she said her first priority is to try and get everything that has happened in Afton out of her mind.

"I have to be focused on the task at hand," she said. "The expedition always has to be first on my mind."

No matter what has happened, or what will happen, Porslid said she wishes she didn't have to leave the community she has grown to love over the last three years.

"I very much like this place and I think I have something to contribute to this place," she said. "That's what I would prefer to do."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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