25-Year-Old Dog Tag Found Inside Belly of Carolina Alligator

An alligator in South Carolina was cut open and found to have five dog tags in its stomach on Friday, including one that was almost 25 years old, according to the owner of the missing pet.

Ned McNeely of Ravenal, South Carolina killed the 12-foot-long animal in the state's Lowcountry region. The alligator weighed some 445 pounds, according to WCSC.

Kenneth Cordray, a butcher who owns a taxidermy shop, also found a shell casing, turtle shells and a spark plug in the gator's stomach when his team opened the animal up at McNeely's request.

"What we found is five dog tags, a spark plug...a bullet casing and bobcat claws," Cordray said.

Some of the phone numbers on the dog tags were legible and Cordray explained that he called one of them.

"I talked to him and he was an older gentleman and he said that he had a lease down on the other side of the river from where the gator was killed, 24 years ago," Cordray said of the person he called.

He noted that in an area with so many alligators, it was possible for dogs to missing: "And that's what they always figured is the dogs got eaten by the gators."

The man described the dog to Cordray, who told the local news outlet the pet probably would have weighed around 80 pounds. The alligator will be made into sausages, steaks and jerky and the skin mounted.

"I've always known alligators will take a dog if they get the chance," McNeely said. "But how does the spark plug get in there?"

McNeely said it was difficult to say how old the alligator was but he said it was "an old man."

"They grow according to their habitat and their food supply and their population," Cordray said. "But, I mean, he's up there because he was big enough to eat [full grown hunting dogs] 25 years ago."

McNeely said this is the largest gator he's killed, adding he "had to shoot it a couple of times, and I had to get a bunch of ropes and hooks and kayaks and a tractor with a chain to finally get it out of the canal, because it was in probably an eight to nine-foot canal."

He's not yet sure what he wants to do in terms of mounting the alligator and said his wife isn't too happy with the idea but they are "having discussions" about the possibilities.

An Alligator in Florida
An alligator swims through the Wakodahatchee Wetlands on March 28, 2021 in Delray Beach, Florida. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images