A Massachusetts couple engaged in a battle to keep their dairy goats since 2006 will be taking their case to a federal judge this month. Alan and Susan Griffin allege that the town has been violating their civil rights and discriminating against them, and they are seeking to block the town from removing their goats, plus $2 million in damages including compensation for mental anguish and emotional problems.
Both Griffin and his wife are disabled, and Susan’s irritable bowel syndrome is actually the reason the couple keeps goats. She cannot drink cow’s milk, but the raw goat milk lessens her symptoms. At the time the town first tried to force them to get rid of their goats, the couple had 3 adult goats and 2 kids on their acre property, the back half of which is zoned for agriculture.
Neighbors, however, complained that the goats smelled and attracted flies, and that that robbed them of their right to enjoy their own properties. This prompted city officials to argue that the Griffins should be banned from keeping goats on their property because only the back half is zoned for agriculture. This means that animals must cross residential land when entering or leaving the property.
The extension of this argument, of course, is that no “livestock” animals – or possibly even agricultural products, if it’s taken even further – can even pass through residential areas, however infrequently. This ruling takes place at a time where zoning restrictions are making it harder to even keep pets nationwide. Some areas only allow one or two pets per household, and there have been numerous stories of people getting into serious trouble for helping sick and injured wildlife.
For instance, earlier this year 12 federal agents stormed into an animal shelter which had rescued a fawn and was in the process of moving it to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. They killed the deer, named Bambi. The agents had been notified of the deer’s presence by a visitor to the shelter. In another case, a family who had rescued a deer was turned in by neighbors, and the family faced the prospect of the deer’s killing until it was released by an unknown person in the middle of the night. In another case, a mother faced a $500 fine for taking an injured bird to a wildlife sanctuary in a birdcage, and in yet another, a man faced charges for feeding birds on his own property.
In the Griffin’s case, the town then proposed a settlement offer. According to this offer, the town would limit the Griffins to keeping four adult goats and three kids on the property – more than the couple had at the time of the lawsuit, raising the question of why this was preferable to the town – as well as having manure kept at least 20 feet from any neighbor’s property line, and a fence placed along the couple’s property. In addition, the town called for the sale or removal of kids during a certain time, and inspections of the property at least every six months. The Griffins declined this offer.
In response, Griffin reiterated his rights, and also said of the goats, “They are just like human beings. They don’t stink. They don’t smell.” The Griffins are close to their animals as most pet owners are to theirs. Goats are highly intelligent animals, and the government is forcing a disabled couple to eliminate that source of companionship. In addition, the sale of raw milk is illegal in Massachusetts, so it will be very difficult for Susan to obtain the milk, which improves her quality of life, without the goats.
Zoning regulations – and the high level of control they give the government over individuals – are a progressive ideal and indeed advocated in Agenda 21. Paragraph 10.3 of the document states, “Land resources are used for a variety of purposes which interact and may compete with one another; therefore, it is desirable to plan and manage all uses in an integrated manner.” In paragraph 10.4, the document acknowledges that much of this is already in place, “but [elements] need to be more widely applied, further developed and strengthened.”
The Griffins believe that private property rights must be protected. Griffin’s goats lived on land zoned for agriculture, but the couple has faced problems simply because of neighbor complaints and because the goats must occasionally cross residential land.
The Griffins have experienced what many Americans are experiencing throughout the nation. Government continues to usurp the rights of property owners in America and those who want to be self sufficient are being targeted and sometimes raided by law enforcement.