August 26, 2013

Goat owners vs. town case reaches U.S. District Court

The Associated Press

AGAWAM, Mass. – A long-running legal dispute between a Massachusetts couple and the town that's trying to make them get rid of the goats they keep on their property is now in federal court.

The town of Agawam is violating their civil rights and discriminating against them, Alan and Suzanne Griffin say in the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Springfield. The suit seeks $2 million in damages for mental anguish and emotional problems.

The Griffins are also asking a federal judge to block the town's move to enter their property and remove the goats.

Legal action is also under way in Housing and Land courts.

"I'm going to fight like hell when they come here to take my animals," Alan Griffin told The Republican newspaper of Springfield.

"I have rights and I will defend my rights," he said.

Griffin would not say how many goats he has now, but there have been five or so over the years.

Patrick Toney, associate town lawyer, said he could not comment on pending litigation.

City officials have argued that the Griffins should be banned from keeping goats because the animals must move over the front section of the yard, which is zoned residential, to reach the back half, which is zoned for agriculture.

Alan Griffin, 60, says the goats provide milk for his 50-year-old wife, who cannot drink cow's milk because of digestive problems.

The dispute dates to 2006. The town offered the Griffins a settlement last year that would have allowed them to keep some goats under certain conditions.


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