GALVESTON, Texas – Beachgoers in Galveston reportedly came across a ‘macabre’ scene on Sunday morning.
According to Galveston Animal Control Officials, officers were called to the beach near 56th Street at around 6:30 a.m. after someone reported finding headless carcasses of goats, chickens, and a pigeon.
Lt. Joel Caldwell from the Galveston Police Department said two headless goats, three chickens, and a pigeon were recovered from the beach.
Caldwell said it appears the animals were killed as part of a Santeria animal sacrifice ceremony.
The ceremony reportedly took place on the beach across the street from the Galveston Island Convention Center.
Caldwell added that Sunday’s discovery isn’t the first time animal remains from a sacrifice ritual were found on that same beach.
Additionally, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that animal sacrifice as part of a religious ceremony are protected acts of faith.
However, those who left the carcasses on the beach may face citations for not properly disposing of the animal remains, Caldwell said. If they weren’t sacrificed humanely, Caldwell said animal cruelty charges could be sought.
“Santeria dates back 500 years and is a mixture of West African/Caribbean religious rituals and some elements of Catholicism. The religion made its way to the United States mainly through Cuban immigration, according to a study by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The religion is also called La Regla Lucumi and the Rule of Osha. Animal sacrifice ceremonies signify a birth, marriage, death or during initiation of new members or priests.”