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Agawam couple suing city in bid to keep their goats

AGAWAM — A long-running legal dispute between a Massachusetts couple and the city that is trying to make them get rid of the goats on their property is now in federal court.

Alan and Suzanne Griffin, in a lawsuit filed last week in US District Court in Springfield. say Agawam officials are violating their civil rights and discriminating against them. The suit seeks $2 million in damages for mental anguish and emotional problems.

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The Griffins are asking a federal judge to block the city’s move to enter their property and remove the goats. Legal action is also underway in state 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.’’

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

Patrick Toney, associate lawyer for the city, 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 portion, 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 city offered the Griffins a settlement last year that would have allowed them to keep some goats under certain conditions.

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