The city of Euless, Texas outlaws killing four-legged animals. Santeria priest Jose Merced was personally informed about this rule back in 2006 when police knocked on his door and prohibited him from ritually sacrificing a goat.
Speaking as an animal lover and as a vegan, I think this story sounds pretty good. But there’s more.
In Santeria, sacrificing a goat is necessary to ordain a priest. It has been three years since the Euless priest has freely practiced his religion or since any Santeria priest has been ordained in Euless. (Please note: the priest subsequently uses any sacrificed animal for food.) The priest sued claiming the enforcement of Euless’ ordinances violated his religious rights. The city claimed public health and animal treatment were compelling interests to uphold the enforcement of their laws. Recently, a federal court found in favor of the priest and he may resume sacrificing goats at once.
The city of Euless is located in Tarrant County, Texas. Tarrant County is comprised of over 79% white residents who are predominately Catholic or Baptist. Although the Euless ordinance banning the killing of four-legged animals exists on the books, the city does not enforce these rules against persons exterminating mice or rats in their homes, nor against veterinarians euthanizing animals. Additionally, Euless Animal Control is permitted to destroy ‘pet animals’ as needed. According to the US Census, Tarrant County farmers made over $7,000,000 in animal product sales in 2007. Tarrant County offers the following four-legged animals for sale as meat: cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, deer, hogs and bison. In fact, the Report revealed that Tarrant County housed 55 goat operations (totaling 632 goats) in 2007.
In sum: Euless bans killing four-legged animals. Euless enforced this ban against a Puerto Rican priest who was practicing an Afro-Cuban religion. Euless does not enforce this ban against other killers of four-legged animals.
This case has nothing to do with animal rights; nobody cared that a goat might experience pain or lose its life. The problem arose because the killing wasn’t being done in accordance with social norms. I do not condone the killing of any animal, including one killed by a Santeria priest, but, under these circumstances, I cannot agree with the city’s actions. This selective enforcement was racist and intolerant; it was hate merely disguised as an animal rights issue.
Filed under: animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal welfare Tagged: | animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal law, animal rights, animal sacrifice, animal suffering, animal welfare, Euless, First Amendment, Santeria