Hoards of animals saved from ritual sacrifice
Police removed more than 200 animals from a home in Greenburgh Wednesday, possibly saving them from a fate of ritual sacrifice.
The animals were delivered to the Indian Trail home so they could be slaughtered, cooked and eaten as part of a Santeria ritual, police say. About 30 goats and rams, chickens, pigeons, doves, quails and turtles were all taken from the home. Police say they were notified of the situation by neighbors.
The sacrifice of animals for religious purposes is not illegal. However, the homeowner, 64-year-old Louis Perez Hernandez, and his son were charged with animal cruelty because authorities say one bird and one goat died from malnutrition.
?The cruelty issue was they had no water,? says Westchester SPCA Chief Kenneth Ross. ?They were kept in crowded, unsanitary conditions.?
Hernandez?s daughter, Stephanie Perez, says her family purchased the animals from a farm in New Jersey and brought them home. The family does not deny that some of the animals were intended to be sacrificed in the Santeria ritual.
?We haven't killed a person,? she says. ?They didn't find anything abnormal except the animals being here.?
Hernandez was also charged with violating a town law against having farm animals in residential neighborhoods. The animals have since been sent back to New Jersey.
Hernandez and his son are due in court on Friday, when they could face additional charges. The Westchester SPCA is conducting its own investigation.
For full interviews about the removal of animals to be used for sacrifice in Greenburgh, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra, Channel 612.