Wednesday Nov 09 2011
Local suspects animals were sacrificed
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Two goats found dead on Halloween
Tony Velasquez came home from work on Halloween to find two of his goats dead, one of which had its udders removed. The Applegate-area resident said the incident was disturbing and believes it may have been part of an animal sacrifice ritual. Placer County Animal Control says it is investigating the report and waiting for test results before moving forward. “We are pretty disturbed over it and also that someone had most likely had known our schedules and knew when to come. Yeah that bothers me, with my wife and kids,” Velasquez said. “She (the goat Opal) had like a skinning of her lower stomach area and udders. It was completely taken off. It’s too much coincidence that it was Halloween. It pretty much was a straight-line square skinning.” Velasquez had been taking care of the goats for the past year for his friend Jabari James. He suspects the goats were purposely killed by somebody, not another animal. “I talked to a vet I know and he said coyotes typically stick to the neck, and dogs the limbs, and there would be fur missing,” Velasquez said. “The gate for the goats was open inward. (My wife) thought that was unusual, like someone had opened the gate.” He said he also noticed that the two goats that were not killed did not have udders. One was a male and one was a young female, according to Velasquez. He said the goats’ udders being targeted sets the killing apart as a possible animal sacrifice. “That Tuesday I read that a very similar incident happened in Washington. They had five goats skinned during the night and they were home. Their law enforcement did say it was related to some sort of occult practice,” Velasquez said. “Supposedly, there are rumors that there are people at times in the area that will do some sort of animal sacrifice rituals.” He said he called to report the incident to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, but was told animal control would be in charge of the investigation. The Sheriff’s Office also sent a patrol car out to his property the next day, according to Velasquez. When James, an agriculture student at Humboldt State University found out the goats were dead, he decided to find a new home for the remaining two. James said he feared the same thing would happen to them if no suspects were caught in the case. He also took the goat’s bodies to be examined for a cause of death at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, located at UC Davis. “‘Why would you want to do something as disgusting as that to some innocent goat?’ They were real friendly goats,” James said. “We took them to UC Davis to get them autopsied and rendered and (find out) how they performed whatever they did. They haven’t given us an official report. It should be about a week.” Lab testing goats for cause of death The laboratory studies livestock and poultry, according to Dr. Bart Breitmeyer, director of the California Health and Food Safety Laboratory Systems. He said for $100 veterinarians perform a series of tests to determine an official cause of death. Breitmeyer said some animal owners, like James, have suspected their animals were intentionally hurt by someone. Overall though, there are few cases where that was proved. “It’s not uncommon, probably more common in small animals, where the owner is suspicious that somebody put something out that killed them,” Breitmeyer said. “On occasion we have cases were someone has, those are fortunately uncommon.” Tim Goffa, the senior supervisor for Placer County Animal Control, said the case is still open and being investigated. After the results of the animal autopsy, or necropsy, come back, animal control may have more leads, according to Goffa. “I can confirm that we did receive a complaint and the animal control office did investigate it on Nov. 1. We are waiting for the results of the necropsy,” Goffa said. To his knowledge, Goffa said he couldn’t recall any previous cases of animals being intentionally killed in the county. “Every case is unique and right now we are just focusing on this case,” Goffa said. “We have to analyze it and go from there and see if we have any leads.” If there was any indication of foul play, Goffa said animal control would contact the proper agency James said he wanted the lab’s report in case a possible suspect turned up or a similar death occurred. “We did want to make sure we had a report with the autopsy to go along with the animal (control) report,” James said. “If something comes up we would be able to provide some evidence for a different situation or if they catch the people that mutilated our goats.” Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.