Group: Remains of More Than 500 Animals Found at Philadelphia Home

Ross Levitt, CNN, December 30, 2009

Investigators recovered the remains of more than 500 animals after executing a search warrant Wednesday at a home in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to the city’s chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The group’s director of law enforcement said he believes the animals–the majority of which were chickens–were sacrificed as part of a Santeria religious ritual.

The animals included “dozens of sheep, goats . . . every type of farm animal you can think of,” the Philadelphia SPCA’s law enforcement director, George Bengal, said.

The SPCA believes two sets of remains are those of small primates, possibly monkeys.

Philadelphia SPCA enforcement officers were first called to the home over the weekend to tend to two emaciated dogs. The organization said that after obtaining a search warrant, its officers found the home littered with animal remains. {snip}

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The dogs were dirty and malnourished. They were put in protective custody after medical evaluation and treatment, the Philadelphia SPCA said.

Bengal said that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that rituals of Santeria–a religion similar to voodoo and originated in Cuba and Brazil–are permitted under the Constitution. But he believes these animals may not have been sacrificed humanely. If that is the case, the home’s owner could be prosecuted, he said.

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The home’s owner hasn’t been seen for eight months but is believed to be in Mexico, Bengal said. {snip}

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