Executive News Svc. UPn 08/20 1740 L.A. panel OKs ban on animal sacrifices By HOWARD S. GA

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Executive News Svc. UPn 08/20 1740 L.A. panel OKs ban on animal sacrifices By HOWARD S. GANTMAN LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A City Council panel, alarmed by reports that hundreds of animals are beheaded, disembowled and tortured in occult rituals each year, endorsed a proposed ordinance Monday outlawing the sacrifice and maiming of animals for religious purposes. The proposal, based on a model developed by the Humane Society, is designed to curb the practices of Santeria, a secretive African-Cuban religion, and various forms of satanism and black magic. Devotees who practice the ritual killing and maiming have complained in the past that such a law would be a violation of their freedom of religion, but none appeared at the Public Safety Committee meeting to speak against the proposal, which was approved unanimously. Michael Burns, a supervisor in the Department of Animal Regulation, said the agency received reports of at least 100 incidents in the last six months in which goats, sheep, chickens and other livestock were killed in Santeria rituals. The killings primarily involve a "cleansing ritual" in which a so-called holy person decapitates the animal and then drains the blood on a believer, Burns said. The department has also received reports of more than 150 other animals being used in satanic and black magic rituals during the past half year, Burns said. These included a cow's tongue being nailed to a tree, a cat being disemboweled while it remained alive and other similarly gory incidents. "I think it is an absolute insult," said the panel's chairman, Councilman Richard Alatorre. "It is just outrageous that in a civilized society -- especially in a city like Los Angeles -- that people use animals for such practices." Burns said officials believe more than 50,000 Santeria devotees live in the Los Angeles area, making it the third largest center for the practice in the United States, after Miami and New York. The religion is a hybrid of voodoo and Roman Catholicism and is primarily practiced by immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and Brazil. The ordinance, which is expected to be considered by the full council in the coming weeks, would make the ritual maiming and sacrifice a misdemeanor punishable by $1,000 fines and six months in jail.

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