A man in Jersey City, New Jersey, was recently found with over 22 animals in his three-bedroom apartment—not all of them alive. Authorities found about “7-9” goats, about “4-5” dead chicken carcasses, a duck, and a dead pigeon nailed to his front door.
Authorities had received multiple complaints from concerned neighbors about the farm animals. When police and the health department arrived at the suburban row home, they found an odd scene.
They found “about four or five dead chicken carcasses, their throats slashed and they were left in a pile,” H. James Boor of the Division of Environmental Health for Jersey City told NBC-4 New York.
Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, Otero’s landlord, was returning home from active duty in the Middle East with the U.S. Navy when she saw the animals grazing in the rental’s backyard. The bizarre situation got worse when she saw the pile of chicken carcasses.
The man, identified by authorities as Emilio Otero, claims he is a Santeria doctor. “I help people with cancer, ladies that not pregnant, people with psoriasis,” Otero told the local news station. Santeria is an Afro-Caribbean religion that started in Cuba and popularly sacrifices animals as a form of devotion.
However, Otero denies partaking in any animal sacrifices and says that he actually eats the animals as part of his religion. “It’s legal (in) the United States…you respect the religion,” Otero explained.
The Jersey City Code of Ordinances would state differently, though. According to the municipal code in Jersey City, “no pigeons, chickens or other poultry shall be permitted to run, fly or stray within 25 feet of such structure, provided that this shall not apply to homing pigeons.”
The code also requires a clean dwelling and chicken coop. Images obtained by NBC-4 show Otero’s backyard filled with cardboard boxes, grazing goats and the chicken carcasses.
“Jersey City has an ordinance that prohibits residents from keeping farm animals, livestock, in the city limits,” Boor said, adding that Otero could face jail time for breaking the city ordinances. “It could be $2000 and 90 days in jail.”
Brevard-Rodriguez said that Otero hasn’t paid his rent since May but she cannot evict him due to the federal eviction moratorium. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued the temporary protection from eviction on August 3. It prevents landlords from evicting renters who are behind on rent. The moratorium is set to end on October 3.
While the animals have been removed from the premise, Otero has not been arrested or charged by authorities. Santeria practices such as the ones Otero was involved in are protected under the Freedom of Religion act. He could potentially be charged for violating the city’s animal codes, according to the Division of Environmental Health.
Original Article: Landlord Suspects ‘Animal Sacrifice’ After 22 Animals Are Found in Man’s Home (msn.com)
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