TACOMA, Wash. — A man arrested after a dogfighting sting at his home last month wants a judge to return the 49 dogs confiscated by Pierce County Animal Control.

Elmer Givens, Jr. appeared in Pierce County Superior Court Thursday to petition a judge to give his animals back. Givens acted as his own attorney during the hearing.

“I don’t have no fancy lawyer,” he told Judge Jeanette Lineberry.

Lineberry postponed the hearing to Jan. 16 to allow the prosecuting attorney to submit a brief containing evidence against Givens.

Outside the courtroom, Givens spoke briefly to reporters.

Asked by a KING 5 reporter how he treated his dogs, Givens replied, “I want to be treated fairly, you know? I haven’t been charged with anything. So why are you guys in my face? I don’t understand.”

Replying to a question about whether he engaged in dogfighting, Givens laughed. “That’s silly,” he said.

Givens was arrested Dec. 18 on suspicion of animal cruelty and animal fighting. Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies discovered 49 dogs, mostly pit bulls, on his property in Midland, outside of Tacoma. 

Authorities said many of the dogs were malnourished and lying in their own filth inside of a garage with no light or ventilation. Deputies said some of the dogs were wounded, and there was evidence of dogfighting, including syringes and medication.

RELATED: Pierce County man suspected of running pit bull fighting ring sues to get dogs back

Givens was released without being charged the following day. Adam Faber, a spokesman with the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the investigation is ongoing.

Animal rights activists, who picketed outside the courthouse before the hearing Thursday, sat in the gallery wearing purple in support of the dogs.

“He does not deserve those dogs,” said Teri Chapman Avis, who helped organize the protest. “He doesn’t deserve one dog, let alone all 49.”

Another protester, Theresa Akridge, clashed with Givens outside of the courtroom, accusing him of taping some of his dogs’ mouths shut.

“Who does that?” she asked him.

“Have you went over the evidence?” Givens challenged her before leaving the building.

Akridge said she felt she had to confront him to be a voice for the dogs.

“He has not been charged,” she acknowledged. “That’s true. But I’ve seen the pictures. What more do you need, really?"

Thirty-seven of Givens’ dogs are currently being cared for by the Humane Society of Tacoma. Veterinarians have treated some of the other dogs.

RELATED: Tacoma animal shelter overwhelmed after taking in dogs from fighting ring