Yalobusha man sentenced in animal cruelty case

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Yalobusha Justice Court Judge Trent Howell last week sentenced Preston Phillips of Water Valley to 120 days in jail, imposed the maximum fine of $1,000, ordered Phillips to reimburse a shelter $500 for the care of the neglected animals and prohibited him from owning any domesticated dog for the next four years.

The case stems from May 2022 when volunteers at Second Chance Animal Alliance in Water Valley found more than dozen dogs were being neglected. Volunteers found nearly 20 dogs bound by heavy chains, covered in sores, and severely undernourished. A litter of newborn puppies was found locked in a trailer. In response to pressure from animal advocates, Phillips was charged with animal cruelty.

According to Mandy Beard of Second Chance Animal Alliance, cases like this are far too common. “I wish I could say that this is rare, but we constantly receive calls about abused and neglected animals here in Yalobusha County,” she explained. “We take in as many as we can, but our resources and space is limited. Our hope is that news of this criminal prosecution will send a message to local residents that abuse of animals is a serious matter that could land them in jail.”

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Each year, Second Chance cares for more than 300 dogs at their facility just outside Water Valley. Thanks to a network of foster families, local veterinarians, and transportation volunteers, Second Chance has over the last four years sent more than 700 healthy dogs to rescues and adoptive families in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Connecticut, Virginia and Ohio.

Like many animal rescues in rural Mississippi, Second Chance relies heavily on volunteer labor and donations from local residents to provide basic necessities like food, medicine and air-conditioned shelter. All the dogs seized from Phillips received medical attention and found a safe place to heal.

“There is a happy ending to this story,” Beard added. “We were able to save these neglected dogs and puppies and find them loving homes. They’re doing great!

“On top of that, the legal system has made a clear statement that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated. Not all these stories turn out so well, so we celebrate good news whenever we can. Today is a very good day.”