Bengal added that the animals were "definitely" used in some kind of religious ritual and that sacrificing animals for religious purposes is not against the law if the rituals are carried out humanely. Unfortunately, some of the animals on the property appeared to have been tortured.
Up to 500 dead animals were found (12/30/09) in a Philadelphia home after what appears to have been a ritual religious sacrifice, police say.
Investigators found the remains of cats, deer, turtles and other animals strewn throughout the Feltonville house and buried in the back, The Philadelphia Daily News reports.
"There's all kinds of stuff in there. Dead animals, dead critters, wax, feces, candles. It's a nightmare," Officer Jerry Czech of the Pennsylvania Game Commission told the newspaper.
According to George Bengal, director of law enforcement at the Pennsylvania chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the remains may include the carcasses of two monkeys, one of which was found on an altar.
"We have uncovered some wildlife remains inside of the property," he said, adding that remains of cobras, leopards and beavers also appear to have been found. "We're still digging."
Bengal added that the animals were "definitely" used in some kind of religious ritual and that sacrificing animals for religious purposes is not against the law if the rituals are carried out humanely.
Unfortunately, some of the animals on the property appeared to have been tortured.
"[The turtles] looked like they were starved to death," Bengal told the Pennsylvania newspaper. "In that kind of a situation, religious ritual wouldn't apply, at least not in my eyes. If they're going to starve an animal to death, to me, that's a cruelty issue."
Further searches also reportedly uncovered 100 or more knives, mainly machetes.
Animal control officials were initially called to the house after dogs were reported as living there under unsanitary conditions.
Bengal said one dog was found at the side of the house "near death" and another sickly pooch was tied up in the basement.
"The whole basement was just covered in feces," he said. "It was just unsanitary -- no food, no water."
Three residents of the house are considered suspects and are expected to face charges of animal cruelty in relation with the two dogs on their property, Bengal said. But if they had a permit or license to capture the wildlife that was found, they will not have acted against the law in possessing them, officials said.