Wife: Deputies lying about bodies, health of dogs

Loney L. Garrett (Source: BCSO)

By Nikki

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) - The wife of a man accused in an horrific case of animal cruelty says her husband is innocent and claims the deputies investigating him are lying.

"Hunting dogs ain't going to get but so fat, and you cannot have hunting dogs fat if they plan to run in the woods and run deer. If they be fat, they ain't going to do no running," said Julia Garrett. "My husband is a very good person. He wouldn't hurt nobody. He wouldn't harm nobody."

Loney L. Garrett has been charged with 43 counts of ill treatment of animals, as a result of the find. Deputies said other charges could follow.

Family and friends say the case has been blown way out of proportion. They say Garrett is a Vietnam veteran battling diabetes and prostate cancer and given his current health condition, he did the best he could to care for his many dogs on Howe Hall Road.

Julia Garrett says deputies involved in her husband's case haven't entirely been truthful. She says her husband never shot or killed any of his dogs.

"My husband never shoot no dog. He never shoot no dogs. Them dogs died, but I never knew him to shoot no dogs. He loved his dogs he wouldn't shoot them," she said.

Deputies, on the other hand, say some of the dead dogs found behind the couples home did not die naturally. A spokesperson for the BerkeleyCounty Sheriff's Office said some of the dogs had been shot to death.

"It was horrifying, your honor -- poorly treated, emaciated, under fed," said Detective J. Riser with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office.

Loney Garrett stood calmly as investigators and a spokesperson for an animal rescue group described in graphic detail what they say they found behind Garrett's Goose Creek home Monday.

"There was a beagle cage with four beagles. There was a dead beagle laying there rotting three feet from the cage," said Michelle Reid with Animal Rescue and Relief. "There was a stream nearby with dead carcasses in the stream."

Reid says some of the dog cages on Garrett's property had tarp wrapped around them as well.

"Those animals had no ventilation and no sunlight," she said.

On Monday, investigators said they uncovered the remains of at least 200 dogs and rescued 45 dogs in poor condition. Officials treating the dogs rescued from the Howe Hall Road home said it appears as though all of the dogs will survive.

"He was actively trying to provide care for them," said Garrett's attorney to the judge Tuesday. "Based on his diminished health, I think what was happening was he became overwhelmed the amount of dogs that he had."

Friends of family echoed his attorney's support.

"He loves dogs. If people get rid of the dogs at the end of the season, he'll take care of them," said a family friend who asked ABC News 4 not to use his name.

Julia Garrett says her husband fed his dogs and that they are naturally thin.

"Every day he's outside with his dogs. Sometimes he would get up 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning and go out and start feeding his dogs, cleaning the buckets out. He used bleach and water to clean the buckets out. He cleaned up the dog poop, every day he was out there cleaning," she said.

At least 40 of the hound dogs are being cared for at the Berkeley County SPCA. Officials at the SPCA said all of the dogs were malnourished and emaciated when they arrived, but their condition has improved.

The dogs are getting physical exams to determine if and when they will be put up for adoption.

In bond court Tuesday evening, Garrett's bond was set at $500 for each of the 43 charges, or $21,500.

"I don't think he should ever be able have animals ever again," Reid said.