via The Sacramento Bee

About a decade ago, the police of an American county located in South Carolina received a report of three missing dogs. The owner believed their dogs were stolen and in his desperate search, he reached the officers for help.

The police opened the investigation. Several posts were put to help find the dogs, but unfortunately, they didn’t succeed. The dogs went missing and as the years passed by, people forgot about them. The owner gave up the search and accepted the fact their dogs wouldn’t come back.

Recently, in the same county, hunters came to a huge alligator which they managed to capture. What does this have to do with the missing dogs? Well… keep reading to find out as this story, sadly, won’t have a happy ending after all.

The county in Charleston, South Carolina, United States, is well-known for its hot dogs. What makes these hot dogs so popular? Well, its sausage is made out of alligator meat. You read it right. The sausages are processed by a butcher shop called Cordray’s.

Corday’s owners, couple Claudia, and Michael Cordray, declared that they process around 100 alligators a year. But this year has been different when they hunt a huge alligator from the Edisto River. The big crocodile was found on private property, making it easier to capture.

The crocodile was huge, bigger than any other seen by the couple before. It measured 12 feet (4.5 meters) long and weighed around 445 pounds (200 kg). It is estimated that it was between 50 and 70 years old. It was hunted by Ned McNeely, a hunter from the area, and was taken immediately to the butcher shop so they will process its taxidermy operation. But the Cordays didn’t expect what happened next.

While having the taxidermy service, Claudia and Michael usually do not open or analyze the contents of the stomach of the animals.

“Normally we don’t look at the stomach. We once opened the stomach of a large alligator years ago, and there was a very rotten 3-foot fish inside. It smelled so bad that everyone had to leave,” Claudia and Michael said.

But this time, they made an exception, due to its incredible size. And they were amazed by what they found in the alligator’s stomach.

The staff found: “1 bullet jacket, 1 spark plug, loads of turtle shells, and several bobcat claws.”

Among these objects, they found something even more unbelievable. They found five dog collars with their identification plates. Two of them with the contact number still legible. One of the phone numbers didn’t exist anymore though. But the other did. And guess who it belonged to?

Once the man heard what the Cordrays had to say, he confirmed that 24 years ago he had lost his three hunting dogs near the area where the reptile was captured. So the dogs’ owner finally found an answer to the mystery of his missing dogs from 24 years old. Mystery solved, indeed. Not a happy ending, though.