A case against a Berkeley County man who had 200 dead dogs in his back yard has drawn national attention.

A California animal-rights group has started an online petition calling for maximum punishment for Loney Garrett, 66, who was arrested last year after the remains were found in the smelly mud behind his single-wide mobile home off Howe Hall Road near Goose Creek.

The petition at care2.com is calling for the maximum penalty. More than 52,000 people had signed it Tuesday afternoon.

Garrett was charged on Feb. 11, 2013, with 43 felony counts of ill treatment to animals and released on $21,500 bail. Each charge carries a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

The case is scheduled for a hearing at 2 p.m. May 7, according to 9th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Bryan Alfaro. He said he was not able to comment further on a pending case.

Garrett's attorney argued at his bond hearing that his client neglected the dogs because of bad health.

Investigators found skulls, bones and carcasses in various states of decomposition. The remains were not buried. Some of the skulls had bullet holes in them.

"This was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen in my career," Berkeley County sheriff's Detective James Riser said at Garrett's bond hearing.

Animal Rescue & Relief took 45 emaciated hound dogs that were still alive. It could not be immediately confirmed Tuesday how many dogs could be saved.

One of the conditions of Garrett's bail was that he have no contact with animals.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.