A HUNTER who killed a 12ft crocodile to make sausages ended up solving a 24-year-old mystery about missing pet dogs.

Ned McNeely killed the massive gator, which weighed in at 445 pounds, in South Carolina and brought it in to a butcher and taxidermy shop so the meat could be turned into sausages and the body could be stuffed.

While working on the animal, however, the team at Cordray’s shop found a shocking discovery in its stomach — five dog tags, among several other indigestible items.

"It definitely ate [the dogs]," shop owner Claudia Cordray said. "It was an old animal, 50 to 70 years old."

The team who discovered the tags was able to make out a phone number on one of them, and gave the person a call.

In a post to Cordroy's Facebook page, the owners said when they called up the owner — they learned they used to hunt in the same area, and the tags belonged to deer dogs that disappeared 24 years ago.

When the team opened the animal's stomach, they also found one bullet jacket, one spark plug, several turtle shells and several bobcat claws.

Kenneth Cordray, who operates the shop with his family, said that alligators in the area grow according to their food supply and population — which is why the family believes this animal was an old one.

"They grow according to their habitat and their food supply and their population,” Cordray told WIS-TV.

"But, I mean, he’s up there because he was big enough to eat [full grown hunting dogs] 25 years ago."

He said he estimates the kind of dogs the man says he lost all those years ago would have weighed about 80 pounds or so.

McNeely told the outlet that the gator is one of the biggest he has ever hunted.

"I 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 said.

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