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Friday, Aug 15, 2008County: Westchester
» Luis Perez-Hernandez
» Louis Hernandez, Jr.
More than 100 farm animals have been rescued from a home in Westchester where police say the owners planned to sacrifice the animals in a "Santeria ritual."
An anonymous tip from a neighbor on Aug. 15 led police to the house on Indian Trail in Greenburgh where about 30 goats and rams and a half-dozen crates full of chickens, pigeons and doves were found. Police also found ducks, quail, and turtles.
Police believe 64-year-old Luis Perez-Hernandez and his son, 24-year-old Louis Hernandez Jr., were planning to sacrifice the animals and drink their blood as part of an Afro-Caribbean religious ritual.
Perez-Hernandez had apparently purchased the livestock from New Jersey where they are being returned.
Both men have been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after a goat and a pigeon were found dead from malnutrition, police said. Perez-Hernandez was also charged with violating a town law which bans livestock in residential neighborhoods.
Perez-Hernandez and his son are due in court Friday and may face additional charges pending the outcome of an investigation by the SPCA in Westchester.
The family admits the animals were for a Santeria ritual and the daughter, 21-year-old Stephanie Perez, says the animals were to be sacrificed. She insists the family did nothing wrong and says they have been celebrating Santeria for as long as she can remember.
The Santeria practice of animal sacrifice is not illegal under the Constitution.
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