Two headless animals washed up behind a South Beach condo.
Animal activist Richard Couto, founder and investigator of the Animal Recovery Mission, speculated that the animals had been killed as part of a Santeria or Palo Mayombe ritual. Couto said animal sacrifice for religious reasons is legal, but it is illegal to treat the animals inhumanely or dispose of them improperly.
“We’re talking about these animals deprived of food, water. They’re hog-tied, their placed in bags. They are transported inhumanely. It’s a torturous process for these animals,” said Couto.
Most people on South Beach said they were shocked to hear about the decapitated animals.
“That’s not the norm here, it’s really not,” said Barry Collins who lives nearby.
“I’m very surprised,” said Thu Nguyen.
Ender Gonzalez said he wasn’t so surprised.
“They practice a lot of Santeria down here in South Beach,” he said.
A blend of Roman Catholicism and West African religious beliefs, Santeria revolves around the worship of saints. Followers of Palo Mayombe petition the spirits of the dead. Cuoto says Palo Mayombe is becoming more popular in South Florida.
The Miami Beach police told CBS 4 News Partner The Miami Herald they were not investigating the animals’ deaths because they did not seem like a threat toward an individual.
Miami police officer Nelson Reyes, who teaches a course at the department on Afro-Caribbean religious practices, told the paper the sacrifice could be related to Haitian Voodoo but it’s difficult to tell because the other items associated with the ritual were washed away.
Generally, Reyes said, decapitated chickens are associated with a “cleansing” ritual and decapitated goats, rams or other four-legged animals are a sign of a spell cast for a beneficial effect.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report