This today from the front page of the local newspaper of my hometown:
Father, son, had more than 100 animals in yard for ritual, Greenburgh police say
GREENBURGH – The 100-plus farm animals found in the backyard of a resident’s home were destined to get the “Santeria” treatment, officials say.
Exactly what that means, police don’t know for sure, but they suspect that owner Luis Perez-Hernandez and his son were planning to sacrifice the animals and drink their blood as part of an Afro-Caribbean religious ritual.
However, an anonymous tip from a neighbor on Indian Trail prevented any of that from happening.
Perez-Hernandez, who turned 64 on Monday, and his son, Louis Hernandez Jr., were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty because two of the animals – a goat and a pigeon – died, apparently from malnutrition.
Both men are due in court Friday and could face additional charges, pending the outcome of an investigation by the SPCA of Westchester.
Greenburgh police got a call Aug. 15 from a neighbor who reported the odd spectacle at 2 Indian Trail in a residential neighborhood, where livestock are prohibited.
Responding officers found a large backyard paddock containing about 30 goats and rams and a half-dozen crates full of chickens, pigeons and doves. The assemblage also included four ducks, eight quail and four turtles.
Police called the SPCA for backup and demanded answers.
The owners, who are from Cuba, produced a receipt for about $3,600 and said the livestock had been delivered from New Jersey for a Santeria religious celebration.
A Bronx man was on hand to perform the ceremony, police said. Capt. Joseph Decarlo of the Greenburgh police said he’s not 100 percent certain what Santeria entails, but said: “I believe they sacrifice the animals and eat them.” He said he thinks the ritual involves drinking blood.
Ken Ross, chief of the SPCA’s law enforcement unit, said the younger Hernandez, 24, spoke about his intentions almost matter-of-factly.
Ross advised him of the law regarding the treatment of animals.
“We told him you can’t do that, not in the United States,” he said.
The Santeria practice of animal sacrifice is not illegal under the Constitution, and in a 1993 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that animal cruelty laws targeted specifically at the religion were unconstitutional.
The father and son were charged with animal cruelty under the state Agriculture and Markets Law, accused of failing to provide sustenance for the dead goat and pigeon. The father also was charged with violating a town law banning farm animals in residential neighborhoods.
The animals were ordered returned to New Jersey.
The SPCA chief said there’s no way to charge them with intent to kill the other animals. For their sake and the animals’, he’s glad they didn’t.
“If we had shown up and it was bloody carnage, with the animals being bled out all over the place, that would be a major issue,” Ross said. “It just wasn’t that way.”
Cleo Oliver, who lives at 19 Indian Trail, was among several residents on the block expressing concern.
“I’ve been here 35 years and we’ve never had anything like this in the neighborhood,” Oliver said. “I’m appalled. From now on, I’m keeping an eye on that house.”
Louis Hernandez, who lives in the Bronx, denied any knowledge of the case yesterday. Attempts to reach his father were unsuccessful.
A P.A.G.A.N. ritual! What a surprise to be made to think of the 1987 Dan Aykroyd/ Tom Hanks homage to the ‘Fifties TV series, Dragnet. But that’s immediately where my mind went with this headline.
Remember when the P.A.G.A.N.s (an acronym for the bad guys’ organization, the meaning of which I forget) stole all the zoo animals for their sacrifice (for some reason I don’t remember and may not have even been written into the movie), and then Joe Friday and his wild and irreverent partner Tom Hanks had to crack the case and stop them?
Maybe this is another of those ones for me and my two cousins only.
My point is, real life apparently has a pretty awful sense of humor, because what a strange movie to be referencing in a news headline. I would hazard a guess that Dragnet might not play exactly as funny to me today as it did when I was 10. Much like Tom Hanks himself! Much funnier when I was 10.
That’s a bad reference, real life! You need to reference something more current and relevant, like The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants 2. That title is comical on its own, free of context. Bonus.
Also, in real life, it’s not so cool to sacrifice animals. It’s equally annoying to read the part where the would-be cult members are so inept that some of the animals died due to malnutrition rather than the creepy sacrificing routine. I’m not one to denigrate another human being’s religious beliefs, but animals definitely don’t give two shits about anybody’s religious beliefs, and therefore I tend to think that they shouldn’t be involved needlessly in our human ideas. We can have the vegetarian debate another time (as in: the bald hypocrisy of me taking this position when I continue to love bacon so much). It’s just that I personally think there’s a significant enough difference when it has to do with scripture rather than sustenance.
Although hey, that’s all sound and fury. If it’s in the Constitution, it’s in the Constitution. It’s just weird to learn that our United States Constitution actually has language pertaining to animal sacrifices. Kinda outdated, I think. Much like a reference to Dragnet.