'Horrific' 45 malnourished and hundreds of dead dogs found; suspect in custody
A Berkeley County man appeared in bond court Tuesday night in Moncks Corner to face charges on 43 counts of ill treatment of animals.
The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has charged Loney L. Garrett, 64, of 408 Garretts Court in the Goose Creek area, with the felonies.
On Monday members of BCSO, Berkeley County Animal Control and Animal Rescue & Relief (ARR) found 45 malnourished dogs and the bones of an estimated 200 dead dogs behind the suspect's residence off Howe Hall Road, according to BCSO.
Judge McGregor T. Dennis set bond at $500 for each charge, totaling $21,500. The judge said Garrett can no longer have animals in his possession.
The judge heard from BCSO Det. Riser and Animal Rescue & Relief (ARR) Executive Director Michelle Reid, both describing what they called the horrific scene at the suspect's residence the day before.
Some of the living dogs were kept in pens with no or improper ventilation, Riser said, adding that investigators are still trying to count the more than 200 dead animals.
“It was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen in my career,” Riser said, adding that the dogs were poorly treated, emaciated and underfed.
Garrett's attorney Melisa Gay told the judge her client was in the military and is of no danger to the community.
“The family tells me and he tells me animal control had been to his house a couple of times and he was working with them to get to the point where he could provide adequate care for his dogs,” Gay said. “He had a lot of dogs. As I understand from the family he has a lot of health problems. He has diabetes, he has prostate cancer, he had surgery a couple of years ago.”
As Garrett's health declined several of his family members, some of whom were in the courtroom, helped him take care of the animals, Gay said. “He was trying to provide adequate care for them.”
“The amount of dead animals, the rotting carcasses, dead beagles laying there rotting, that's unacceptable,” Reid said. “There were rats in the stream nearby, dead carcasses in the stream. It's a hazard to people and animals.”
She described pens with tarps wrapped around the door meaning those dogs had no ventilation and no sunlight, she said. Other pens with only one side and a roof left dogs unprotected from the elements, Reid said.
“The animals have a number of parasites,” Reid said. “Their gums were pale, which is usually an indication of them being anemic from having a large amount of parasites. They were malnourished beyond belief. They had open wounds, infections.
“These animals were not properly taken care of. He had a number of warnings. There is no excuse.”
After receiving numerous complaints, officers served a search warrant on Garrett's residence, BCSO spokesperson Dan Moon said.
Authorities removed the 45 living dogs that were being kept in pens in the rear of the residence, according to Moon.
Those treating the dogs at the Doc Williams Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) say it appears the dogs can all be saved and nursed back to health, according to a BCSO statement released Tuesday evening.
Deputies and volunteers used numerous boxes to recover the remains of the estimated 200 dogs scattered throughout the wooded area surrounding the property, according to Moon.
Garrett was arrested Monday around midday and taken to the detention center.
“We found the dead animals everywhere,” Moon said on Monday. “Bones everywhere… That could've occurred over a few years or a few months. Probably at least over a year.”
There had been some complaints from animal control and an animal rescue organization but the complains increased dramatically recently, according to Moon.
“This is a substantial case,” Moon said. “That's a lot of dead animals...Filthy, sloppy, bones everywhere just laying on the ground. Nothing was buried.”
“You couldn't walk very many steps without stepping on bones,” ARR board member Bryan Cordell told reporters after the bond hearing. He said none of the living dogs are currently up for adoption but will be once they get better.
Cordell said donations to aid the dogs' recovery can be sent to Animal Rescue & Relief, P.O. Box 13477, Charleston, SC 29422.
This investigation continues and other charges could follow. A preliminary hearing is set for April 12. Garrett remains in custody tonight.