Sonia Horon, Global Animal

Miami’s South Beach residents were in for a scary surprise when a blue bag containing decapitated roosters and a goat was found floating by luxury condos. The security guard who spotted the bag called Richard Couto, an animal activist and investigator, to look into the bizarre incident. Couto concluded that the animals are most likely victims of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion popularized in Cuba and brought to Florida by immigrants, which oftentimes involves animal sacrifice. 

 Santería ceremony. Photo credit: AP Photo/Javier Galeano
A Santería ceremony. Photo credit: Javier Galeano/ AP Photo

Most of us are only familiar with Santeria from Law & Order SVU episodes where it’s depicted as somewhat primitive and cruel. In reality most Santeria practitioners are deeply spiritual and ethical people. But the religion does have its dark side. Although our Constitution protects humane killing of animals in religious ceremonies Couto says that the animals are not always treated with compassion. In certain instances they are even tortured. Couto says the animals are “Hog-tied, bagged, at times placed in hot trunks for transport. They are thrown in garages for days upon days until the ceremony takes place without food, without water. Imagine the fear that went into this animal.”

Couto believes the cruel practice is on the rise as he’s getting more and more calls about decapitated animals. He also mentioned being greatly surprised at the posh location where the headless bodies were found, saying this goes to prove it can happen anywhere from low-income neighborhoods, to the middle of South Beach, with celebrity-filled “Star Island” just across the way.

It’s not only inhumane but also hazardous to dispose of animals in such a disrespectful way. And although America is celebrated because of our religious freedom, it’s difficult to imagine that any religion would require such brutality to be inflicted upon living beings that share this planet with us.