ATLANTA - Kirkwood residents are concerned after finding decapitated animals in the neighborhood.
Authorities told FOX 5's Alex Whittler the animals are part of a religious sacrifice, but Atlanta police said they should be disposed of properly.
Joe Bosso and his family were out for a walk when they noticed decapitated animals floating in a Kirkwood creek near the corner of Paxon Street SE and Alder Court SE.
"My wife thought it was a dog and we were upset someone would do that to an animal and dump it there, but then I noticed it had hooves," he said.
Bosso took photos showing what appears to be a beheaded goat and rooster.
FOX 5 blurred the photos for sensitive viewers and readers.
Bosso said he’s never seen anything like this in the few years he’s lived in the neighborhood, but he has heard others who have.
"People in this area have found dead animals before, I think mostly chickens and it is related to some type of religious ceremony type of thing," he said.
Atlanta police have been notified about discarded animal carcasses before.
“The decapitation of goats, chickens, and sheep in the city of Atlanta tends to be centered around a religion called Santeria," officers told FOX 5.
Miguel Cruz, who works at a religious goods store, said it’s not uncommon for those who practice Santeria to offer sacrifices to deities around this time of year.
"Especially during October 4, that’s one of the biggest days where basically anyone in the religion of Santeria, there’s millions of them, all of them get together on that day, and they have to drop off offerings," Cruz said.
Cruz said it is not proper practice, however, to leave animal sacrifices out in public
"Usually, when we involve rituals like that, they’re discarded in the most blessed way and most respectful way to the animal," he said.
"It would be in a bag more than anything, not in the open like that," Cruz said.
Atlanta police also told FOX 5, “[t]he constitution protects the sacrificing of animals due to religious practices however it doesn’t protect these individuals from dumping the carcasses in public spaces as they have been doing.”
Police report animal sacrifices have been found in roadways, four-way intersections, nature preserves, and cemeteries over the years.
Fulton County Animal Services said anyone who finds animal carcasses should contact the Department of Sanitation to have them removed.
The animals found in the Kirkwood creek were removed in this manner.
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.