A Goose Creek man pleaded guilty Monday to 10 counts of animal cruelty in connection with a 2013 incident involving scores of emaciated and dead dogs.

The case against Loney Garrett, 66, of Garretts Court in Goose Creek drew national attention, with a California animal-rights group starting an online petition calling for maximum punishment.

He faced 43 charges of animal cruelty, but 33 were dropped in a plea deal, according to his lawyer, Melisa Gay.

On Feb. 11, 2013, investigators found 45 sick and emaciated dogs and the remains of more than 200 on and near his property off a dirt road near Howe Hall Road. Neighbors had complained of a foul odor and signs of possible animal abuse.

Garrett is a veteran with "some mental health challenges" and prostate cancer, Gay said. He has raised hunting dogs for more than 25 years, but the situation got out of hand after he had surgery in 2011.

"In the past few years, the number of dogs doubled," she said. "A lot of people were getting rid of hunting dogs and Mr. Garrett is a nice man with a soft heart, so people would give him their dogs, but after his surgery, he was not able to take care of them and it just got away from him. He literally got in over his head and he didn't have the skills to figure out what to do."

Sentencing will be held within 90 days, Gay said. Garrett could face up to five years for each charge.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.