(WJLA) - On Tuesday, the Washington Humane Society, which investigates animal cases in the District, is looking into why nine animals were apparently killed on purpose and dumped in Rock Creek Park.
"Over the past couple of years we've had a few of these cases," says Scott Giacoppo with the Washington Humane Society. "We don't know if it was conveniently dumped, or if that was actually where they left it as an offering to whatever god."
According to Giacoppo, the six chickens, two pigeons, and one goat appear to have been sacrificed in a ritual -- based on similar cases, he believes the killings may have been done by followers of the Santeria religion.
Santeria has many rituals, some of which involve animal sacrifice. In the 1990's, the Supreme Court ruled followers have a first amendment right to perform sacrifices, but there are limits.
"I have no opinion at all on the religion, my job is just to make sure that the animals weren't treated inhumanely," says Giacoppo.
Essentially, if the animals were killed quickly this likely wasn't a cruelty crime. If they suffered, it qualifies.
"I would never have thought that could have happened here," says District resident Chase Ballinger.
In the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, those who ride bikes and walk dogs near where the dead animals were found are pretty taken aback.
"I watch a lot of those crazy TV shows, that sounds like something you would see on a TV show," says Elisabeth Pierce.