HOUSTON - It's called dog flipping and the allegation of it happening at the Montgomery County pound has dogged that controversial shelter for years.
"A lot of people knew," said the shelter's acting director Dr. Todd Hayden. "It's amazing how many people knew."
Hayden who became the shelter's acting director last March says the dog flipping happened long before he took charge.
"These people are heartbroken because they can't find their pet and they may come here looking for it and it's not here because someone sold it."
Hayden says he confirmed the disturbing rumors about the dog flipping by combing through years of rescue reports.
"Something dirty is going on," said Hayden. While he says the majority of rescue groups provide essential help to the shelter Hayden says at least one rescue group and at least one former employee were behind the dog flipping.
How does he feel that former employees could be the culprits? "That's something that kind of kills my soul a little bit," Hayden said. "These guys are here to protect animals they were charged with that and entrusted with that."
Hayden says dogs especially pure breeds and little cute fluffy ones disappeared from the shelter before they had been there for three days which the law requires.
That required three day period gives owners a chance to retrieve their lost pets. From January 2009 to March of last year Hayden says 228 dogs left the shelter before the required three day hold was up.
56 dogs the vet says disappeared the same day they arrived at the shelter.
"Sometimes within less than an hour it was flipped out," said Hayden.
"The more I'm involved the more I'm deeply concerned that this has been an issue in the past," said Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark.
"It's not an issue today but just because it happened in the past doesn't mean it's not a crime." Hayden tells us the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department and the D.A.'s office are now investigating.
Anyone with information about the dog flipping should contact one of those agencies.