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Three charged in animal torture, cruelty case

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JACKSON -- Two Alpha men and a Worthington woman are facing felony-level charges for animal cruelty and deprivation after a June incident that left a black lab dog dead.

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The criminal complaints, filed recently, state authorities received a call June 6 in regard to a dog tied outside without shade or water.

The citizen who called said it looked like the dog was dying.

An investigator went out to a home on South Palmer Street and saw a dog that appeared to be lying upside down in a hole it had dug.

He noticed the dog was breathing, but did not acknowledge the investigator's approach.

The dog's tongue was hanging out and flies were buzzing around the animal.

The investigator found a pail in the yard and attempted to get water from a hose, but couldn't get the spigot to work.

While he was attempted to do this, a woman later identified as Susan Syhavong came out of the house.

The investigator stated he needed help getting water and told her the dog was in distress.

Syhavong stated it was her brother-in-law's dog and he could take care of it when he got home later.

The investigator told her to get water, so she used a wrench to turn on the spigot, complaining that it was not her dog.

The investigator then noticed the rope tied to the dog was tangled around a small windmill in the yard, and the dog could not get up.

When Syhavong brought the bucket of water over, the investigator told her they had to get the dog's collar off.

She allegedly told the officer it was too hard to get the collar off the dog, and that her brother-in-law could deal with it when he got home.

At that time, the investigator noticed the dog was no longer breathing.

The temperature outside, he noted, was 93 degrees, and there was no shade available for the animal.

Syhavong said the dog had received water the day before and was owned by Sombat Phosy.

She said she had been at the residence all day the day before.

A deputy arrived to assist with the investigation. Syhavong told the deputy she was disgusted that officers were at the scene questioning her about the dog's care.

She was allegedly irate and confrontational during the conversation, and said she didn't care about the dog.

Living at the house, she said, was Sombat Phosy, her husband Somchith Phosy and Sombat's wife.

Syhavong lives in Worthington, she said, but stays at the Alpha residence with her husband off and on.

She repeated often that she does not care about the dog and didn't care if it was neglected.

She said the dog had started digging holes in the yard the day before, and when the investigator explained that was because the dog was trying to cool itself and find moisture in the ground, she said she didn't care.

The deputy examined the dog and found the leash was tied to the metal windmill structure and wrapped around it, restricting the dog's movement.

There was an empty 5-gallon bucket sitting inside the windmill that was completely dry and had dirt inside throughout the whole bucket.

It appeared the dog had been struggling for awhile -- hair was missing from underneath the collar from its struggles, and there was dirt inside its mouth, including in the back of its throat.

If the leash had been unwound from the windmill, the dog would have been able to reach a small doghouse.

There were no signs elsewhere on the property that showed the dog had been tied in any of the shaded areas.

Somchith Phosy arrived on the scene and said he had given the dog a full five gallons of water at 1 p.m., prior to leaving for work.

The deputy, checking his watch and finding it was approximately 2:30 p.m., advised Somchith it was impossible for a dog to drink 5 gallons of water or have it all evaporate to total dryness in such a timeframe without making mud on the inside of the bucket instead of dried dirt.

Somchith also stated he had left the bucket a few feet away from the windmill, not inside it.

The following day, Sombat Phosy was interviewed. He stated his brother's wife Syhavong had been the only one home and knew the dog was outside.

He said the dog was about 5 years old.

He stated he gave the dog food and water at approximately 10 p.m. the night before, and had noticed around 11:30 a.m. that day how hot it was getting.

He said he did not call his brother, who was home at the time, because he assumed Somchith would check on the dog.

Sombat said the dog would frequently tip over his water bucket, and that they did nothing to ensure the pail would not tip.

He allegedly admitted a deputy from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office had been by at previous times to tell him the dog needed shelter or shade.

Syhavong, 25, Sombat Phosy, 31, and Somchith Phosy, 27, are each charged with animal torture and animal cruelty, both felonies, and animal deprivation, a gross misdemeanor.

All three are scheduled to make initial appearances on the charges Sept. 19.

Somchith Phosy has previous convictions of driving while impaired, driving after revocation and test refusal.

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