Who abuses animals? It isn’t an easy answer. People engaged in cruelty towards animals can come from all walks of life, and may look completely normal to most people. Because it can be hard to spot someone who is actively abusing an animal, an unfortunate stereotyping seems to have emerged that targets religions that engage in animal sacrifice, and faiths/philosophies that fit into certain sensationalist fantasies (ie Satanism, Witchcraft). How else can you explain quotes like the following?
“An animal welfare official says a beheaded dog and cat found in Philadelphia appear to be the result of a ritual sacrifice. George Bengal, Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals director of investigations, said the dog and cat were found … near a bike path in Philadelphia’s Olney neighborhood along with three beheaded chickens. He said he believes the animals were killed elsewhere and the remains dumped where a passer-by found them. Mr. Bengal said there is usually an increase in ritual animal sacrifices at this time of year because of “a lot of high holidays that different groups celebrate.” But he said most of those sacrifices involve goats and chickens.”
Despite George Bengal’s bizarre statement about Winter-holiday animal-killings, most experts, including officials at the ASPCA, agree that dead animals left in public places usually aren’t put there by Santeros, Pagans, or Satanists, but by disturbed individuals and messed-up kids.
“According to experts, like local anthropologist and folklorist Dr. Eoghan Ballard, and Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of anti-cruelty services for the American SPCA, sacrificial remains found in parks, especially those adorned with talismans like candles or pennies, are most often the work of religious novices, teens or satanic dabblers.”
Yet, in the same article, a PSPCA official warns adherents of faiths that practice animal sacrifice that there is no “free pass on animal cruelty issues”, as though all the very public court battles over the issue were simply done so these priests and priestesses could secretly torture animals with impunity. Do Pennsylvania SPCA officials have some sort of special hostility towards minority faiths? That seems to be the assertion of the Rev. Jack Winters, who claims a Humane Society Police Officer and member of the Lycoming County SPCA, while investigating a report that he mistreated his pets, repeatedly stated that Satanists sacrifice animals while noting Winters’ Satanic-themed decor.
Is it just some sort of strange synchronicity that all of these quoted SPCA officials are from Pennsylvania, or is there something else at play here? Are these PA organizations being fed misinformation by the sort of “cult experts” in “ritualistic crime” thoroughly debunked by Pagan activist, and former Vancouver police officer, Kerr Cuhulain? Or is it a case of fossilized “common knowledge” passed down from the Satanic Panic era? Whatever the case may be, one has to wonder how many animal welfare agencies across this country have been tainted by bad information, superstition, and religious bias. How many officials are out hunting for Satanists or Santeros when they should be paying attention to the neglected and abused children most likely to engage in animal abuse. Just think how much good they could do solving these cases if they weren’t so busy telling police to round up the usual suspects.