The Washington Humane Society is investigating what they say may be ritualistic killings of animals whose bodies were found in Northwest D.C.
Six chickens, what's believed to be a pygmy goat and two pigeons were found in Rock Creek Park yesterday, some of them decapitated.
Scott Giacoppo with the Humane Society says this appears to be an animal sacrifice from the Santeria religion, which comes from the West Indies.
"There are a number of different religions that use animals in their sacrifice, and based on the injuries, we're fairly confident it was a Santeria sacrifice — generally the throat is slit and there are decapitations," Giacoppo says.
Giacoppo says those practicing the religion have the legal right to sacrifice animals.
"The key is they do have to do it in a very particular way and it has to be humane," he says.
Giacoppo says the Humane Society is evaluating the animals to determine whether they were killed in a humane way.
"So in the cases we've looked at — the past two I recall — we don't necessarily believe they were humanely killed, but we were never able to identify who perpetrated the crime," Giacoppo says.
Investigators do not believe the animals were sacrificed at the site in Rock Creek Park, but later taken there.