MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Residents say they found a decapitated goat and three chickens that washed up on the shore of South Beach over the past weekend.
Some of the residents said they first saw the dead animals Saturday on the rocks in the water behind The Floridian, a South Beach condominium on Biscayne Bay.
On Sunday, residents said the carcasses were laying on the retaining wall along the water.
"At first, I thought it was a prop," said resident Quintin Hill. "I really thought it was some kind of setup. That's why when I walked around the corner I was like, 'Am I walking into something I'm not supposed to?'"
Animal activist Richard Couto said his mission is to expose and stop animal abuse. He believed the animals might have been killed as part of a religious ceremony and then were dumped into the bay.
"We came down this morning and sure enough, there was a bag with headless goats and chickens, roosters, that sort of thing," said Couto.
Couto said he feared the animals may have abused before they were killed, although the origin of the animals was not immediately known.
"Who is sacrificing around here? I don't know," said Hill.
Animal sacrifice is legal and protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Sacrifices are also a part of some religious rites.
"I think that too much freedom, wrong freedom in this country," said Floridian resident Tatiana Litviakova.
Miami Beach sanitation worker Michael Andrews said seeing headless animals is nothing new to him.
"I've seen goats and cats and chickens and all kinds of stuff," said Andrews. "Nothing surprises me, not on the beach. You see everything on the beach."
Andrews and another city employee said they scooped up the carcasses Sunday afternoon. The owner of the animals, who is still unknown, could be fined for improper disposal.