The man who pleaded guilty in the disturbing death of a German shepherd is set to be sentenced Tuesday, and activists are pushing for a stiff punishment.

“Captain’s” former owner Brian Whitlock pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in April, nearly nine months after the dog was found dying in a Kitsilano dumpster.

Two groups of animal rights campaigners gathered in Vancouver Sunday to rally ahead of Whitlock’s sentencing.

“Justice for Captain” and “For the Love of Captain” have collected more than 130,000 names on a petition calling on the Crown to slap animal abusers with stricter sentences.

“We just strongly believe animal cruelty should be on its way out. It’s just senseless,” said Lisa Smith.

Whitlock could face up to a five-year prison sentence, a $10,000 fine and life-long ownership ban.

“Hope the criminal justice system will see there are people here that still care and that we would like to see a meaningful sentence for the crime that he committed against Captain,” Charlene Myers said.

The 26-year-old Vancouver man was accused of starving and stabbing the German shepherd last July, then leaving him in a dumpster.

Whitlock’s two-year-old dog was discovered near-death after neighbours heard his cries from the trash container.

The dog, which was found wrapped in a bloody blanket, was bruised, emaciated, covered in feces and unable to walk. Despite medical efforts to save Captain, he went into cardiac arrest and died the next day.

A neurologist who examined the dog said if he had survived, he likely would have been quadriplegic.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger