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Sterling woman arrested for sacrificing chickens appeals for custody of seized rooster

Mercy Carrion
A Sterling woman who was arrested in May for allegedly sacrificing chickens multiple times a week for religious purposes appealed to regain custody of a rooster that was seized from her in Loudoun County Circuit Court today.

As first reported by the Times-Mirror, Loudoun County Animal Services responded to an April 25 complaint that Mercy Carrion was inhumanely killing between 12 to 15 chickens a week in her townhouse in the 100 block of Sherwood Court in Sterling. Officers found blood splatter on the walls of the home, a club with a metal shield covered in blood and feathers, a knife covered in blood, two dead roosters and one live rooster, according to a search warrant. The officers seized the live rooster and took it to the Loudoun County Animal Shelter. Carrion's appeal of the seizure of her rooster was denied in circuit court today by Judge Jeanette A. Irby.

An informant tipped off officers they saw Carrion “run around the house, slamming the chickens to the wall, bludgeon them to death with a club, bury the chickens alive, burn the chickens alive and cut them from the top of the neck, down the center of the body, while still alive,” according to the search warrant.

Loudoun County Animal Services Officer Patrick Breslin, who first responded to the complaint, testified today Carrion kept her live chickens in 24 pack-sized cardboard beer boxes. Breslin said the first time he checked the home he found three live chickens stacked in boxes in the basement.

“They were crouching in the box like they couldn't stand up or move around,” Breslin said. “The boxes were soaked in feces. There were empty containers that could have had food and water in them at one time, but they were empty at the time of the search.”

When officers executed the search warrant a day later, only one of the chickens was still alive, testified Breslin. The other two chickens were decapitated and shoved into a file cabinet in a closest, he said.

Carrion's backyard was small and didn't provide room for her chickens to roam, the officer testified. There weren't any signs of things a person keeping livestock would normally have in the home, like bags of feed or proper shelters, said Breslin.

Dr. Mike Gast of Blue Ridge Veterinary Services testified he performed necropsies of the dead chickens for LCAS.

“They were decapitated, anemic and extremely emaciated,” said Gast. “On a body scale of one to five, they were a one.”

The live rooster was also very thin, testified Gast. He said the rooster probably wouldn't have survived much longer in Carrion's care.

While she delivered her ruling, Irby said it isn't against the law to kill a chicken, but people who keep livestock are legally obligated to provide proper care to them while alive.

Carrion must pay $560 to cover the cost of the care of the rooster while it was in the shelter. Irby said she isn't able to prohibit Carrion from keeping more animals because this is her first offense.

Erin Peterson, deputy chief of LCAS, told the court the chicken already has a suitable home ready to adopt it.

Carrion is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Loudoun General District Court at 10 a.m. Aug. 3 for three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

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