Goose Creek man accused in animal abuse released from jail

Family: Man facing 43 felony counts of animal abuse 'loved dogs'
Published: Feb. 13, 2013 at 6:04 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 at 10:26 PM EST
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Crates in backyard of Garrett property.
Crates in backyard of Garrett property.
Michelle Reid says Garrett "shouldn't have animals ever again."
Michelle Reid says Garrett "shouldn't have animals ever again."
One of 45 rescued hound dogs.
One of 45 rescued hound dogs.

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - A Goose Creek man accused of 43 counts of animal cruelty posted bond and has been released from jail.

Loney Garrett was given a $21,500 bond which Garrett's attorney and family described as 'a blessing.' Family members say even though Garrett is facing 43 felony counts of ill treatment of animals, the case is not as horrific as it seems.

"He loved dogs," said Veno Moore. "He loved dogs. He's a Vietnam Veteran and that was his hobby, hunting."

Supported by family members and friends, Loney Garrett was given a 'manageable' bond Tuesday night in Berkeley County.

As Garrett stood in front of a judge, handcuffed, his family tried to set the record straight after Berkeley County Deputies found more than 200 dead dogs on his property over the last two days.

"It might look like it's a horrific deal but he got overwhelmed with the amount of dogs that he had," said a friend who would only refer to himself as Hitman.

Hitman says like Garrett he also owns hunting dogs and sometimes hunts along side of him. Hitman says Garrett would take others' unwanted dogs at the end of hunting season if they had nowhere else to go.

"People get rid of dogs at the end of the season and sometime he'll take care of them and try to find somebody to take them and that's what this case is about," said Hitman.

Garrett was described as someone who took in hounds who were no longer needed in the field.

"At the end of the year, people who got dogs and didn't want to keep them would get rid of them. A lot of people do that and he would take some of the dogs cause a lot of people know him," says Hitman. "You have to think to - if he takes these dogs on and nobody comes immediately to buy them he's stuck with them."

During the bond hearing, Garrett's attorney, Melissa Gay, told the judge after he took the dogs into his custody he became 'overwhelmed.'

"Based on his diminished health I think what was happening was he became overwhelmed with the amount of dogs that he had," said Gay.

The attorney says the 64-year-old Garrett suffers from diabetes and prostate cancer.

She says once he could not tend to the dogs like he wanted to his family tried to pitch in and help. Gay says "Garrett tried really hard to take care of the dogs."

But others, especially those who first responded to the home on Sunday, say otherwise.

"It was a sea of bones back there," describes Bryan Cordell, a board member with Animal Rescue and Relief, Inc.

"We've done a number of these cases over the years and this is maybe the worse that we've ever seen," said Cordell outside of the bond hearing.

Michelle Reid was also tasked with finding and marking dog skeletons in Garrett's Goose Creek backyard. She says overwhelmed or not, this behavior is wrong.

"Those animals had no ventilation and no sunlight," said Reid, describing the cages set up in Garrett's yard housing some of the 45 live hound dogs that were later rescued.

Garrett continues "there was a beagle cage with four beagles and there was a beagle laying there rotting three feet from that cage. That's unacceptable."

Before the judge set Garrett's bond at $21,500, Reid put in her two cents.

"I don't think that he should be able to have animals ever again."

The judge decided to add on the condition that Reid suggested. Until Garrett goes to trial no dogs on his property.

Volunteers with Animal Rescue & Relief, Inc. like Cordell and Reid are trying to save as many of the 45 dogs they can. The ARR group took the surviving dogs from the property Sunday.

The Doc Williams SPCA is accepting donations to go towards the benefit of the rescued dogs.  If you would like to help, visit their website for more information.

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