Taylor Co. residents upset after animal neglect charges dropped against farm owner
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The owner of a farm in Taylor County in the center of an animal cruelty controversy speaks exclusively to WAVE 3 News.
Friday images taken from inside Phillp's Agri Farm, which includes a dog breeding facility, were made public.
The pictures were taken in February by an animal rescuer, Kathy Borseth during an animal welfare check.
There are hundreds of pictures. Some show dogs of several different breeds living in their own waste. Some of the pictures show dogs covered in filth, their food dispersed among the feces-covered floors.
"That's not mud," Borseth said of the pictures showing the seemingly muddy ground. "There's concrete under that. That is liquid feces mixed with urine," she said.
One of the images shows a dead dog, lying face down in its own waste. Another live dog was still inside of that crate. The day of the welfare check, six dogs were immediately confiscated by an animal control officer.
Borseth said the dogs had to be treated for a number of diseases, blindness and skin conditions.
"It's just a very sad situation," another animal volunteer, Connie Tucker told us.
She and several others gathered Friday in front of the Taylor County Courthouse in protest.
The couple who owns the farm, Bobby and Rebecca Phillips were both charged with 82 counts of animal cruelty and 82 counts of failure to vaccinate the dogs for rabies.
On Thursday, all charges were dropped against Bobby Phillips. He is also running for Taylor County Judge-Executive.
Rebecca Phillips agreed to plead guilty to six counts of animal cruelty and six counts of failure as part of an Alford plea. As part of a plea deal, Rebecca Phillips will get to hand-pick 25 of the dogs she wants back.
The deal was agreed to by a special prosecutor, Lisa Nalley Martin. The deal was struck behind closed doors in mediation. Repeated calls and requests for information about the case from WAVE 3 News were refused by Martin. We also asked to speak directly to her over the phone. That request was also denied.
"That prosecutor did not stand up for the rights of what was going on in this town," Ramon Hollis, a local church pastor said.
He also called out the judge in the case, Michael Loy and asked for him and Martin to address why a harsher punishment was not granted.
"Come and defend your actions, because what you said and what you done is wrong," Hollis said.
Judge Loy did not return our call.
In an exclusive interview, Bobby Phillips denied having any knowledge of the animal's living conditions. He told WAVE 3 News he never goes back to where the dogs are kept, even though his home sits on the same property.
"But the dogs are on your property," we asked Mr. Phillips.
"They are on my, my wife's property, yes ma'am, but I don't have nothing to do with the dogs," he responded.
"But do you live here? The dogs are in your backyard."
"Yes ma''am," he said. "But I don't have nothing to do with the dogs."
When asked about the conditions the dogs where in, Bobby Phillips didn't seem to think there was anything wrong and compared them to his cattle which he said also get covered in mud. He went on to say the entire ordeal has been a political smear campaign designed to smear him.
Bobby Phillips also said he and his wife have both survived cancer and that the voters will know he would do a great job as Judge-Executive.
We also asked Mr. Phillips about the image of the dead dog seen covered in its own waste.
"One of the dogs was dead, lying in its own feces," we asked him.
"Someday you're gonna die ma'am," he responded. "I hate that, but you're gonna, because you're awful pretty. It's a shame that you're going to leave sometime but someday you're going to die."
He said that dog was 15 years old and was no longer able to breed. He said it was one of about 15 animals that had passed the age of breeding. He said that instead of putting those dogs to sleep his wife would continue feeding them.
When asked how he knew about the condition and details in relation to that dog, he stated it was because his wife had told him so.
Phillips said the people of Taylor County do not care about his animals. What they care about, he said, is what he can do for them, the voters. He said he's served the community for decades and is committed to continue to do so.
The plea agreement is being seen as a slap in the face by animal lovers in Taylor County, especially by the woman who conducted the search, Kathy Borseth. She said the images she took were never used as evidence. The veterinarians who treated the 82 dogs that were confiscated from the farm never got to testify.
"I hope it brings awareness to the good ol' boy system," Borseth said. "It does exist. It is alive and well."
The dogs are still in the care of the Taylor County Animal Shelter. Sources close the shelter told us some of the dogs will never be able to be adopted.
We also asked how much the ordeal has cost taxpayers. Here is the breakdown the Judge Executive's office gave us:
Phillips Dogs Case (approximate expenses)
Beginning March 15 to present date of August 24, 2018
Dog food…….. $ 5,224.50 (162 days' x 32.25 per day)
Vet bills………. $13,000.00 approximate (this does not include the month of August which will be paid in September)
Employee……. $ 6,590.00 (new employee $3,590 and overtime 3,000 of employees working before March 15
TOTAL of the above is $ 24,814.50
TOTAL of housing the dogs is $ 108,540.00 (162 days' x 10.00 per day)
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