A couple have been arrested after a sheep's head was cut off and shown to local children.
The 39-year-old woman and a man aged 28 remained in police custody after the gruesome incident in Willington, County Durham.
On Sunday evening and yesterday morning, police received calls from concerned residents saying that a sheep's head had been left in the rear yard of a property in North Terrace.
Officers made inquiries and later found the rest of the carcass in a nearby field. A local vet examined the sheep and found signs it had been mutilated before it died.
It was believed the animal's head was displayed to children living in the village.
People in Willington were thought to be furious about the alleged incident and youngsters being exposed to it.
A Durham Police spokesman said: "Police can confirm they are investigating claims the sheep's head was shown to a number of young children before it was left in the rear yard."
The two were arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty and outraging public decency.
A girl and two boys from the address have been taken into the care of social services, police said.
Several knives have also been seized from the house and a Staffordshire bull terrier has been taken into local kennels.