Animal welfare professionals say they want answers after the city of Dallas returned 27 dogs to an owner who let some of the animals become visibly emaciated and covered with open sores.
"This appears to be a clear case of animal abuse," said Metroplex Animal Coalition spokesperson Jonnie England.
England said she questions the city's decision not to investigate the case more thoroughly.
"There were piles of bones, dead dogs, this was just deplorable conditions," she said.
The dogs were impounded two weeks ago from a property near Overton.
In a statement Dallas Animal Services said, "veterinary staff examined the dogs and determined one was sick, but the other 27 were in reasonably good shape, happy socialized dogs. The owner signed over the sick dog for euthanasia."
But Skip Trimble, the Chairman of the Dallas Animal Shelter Commission disagreed. He saw the pictures and wonders how anyone could call them happy and in good shape.
"I am hoping they will pursue criminal charges against this guy, if he's treating them and letting them die," he said.
By phone the owner of the dogs said he's not ashamed of anything and the dogs are well taken care of. He declined a request by NBCDFW to let us come out and see the dogs at their new Terrell home.
Adding to the concerns, documents show the owner only paid $350 to redeem the dogs.
Skip Trimble said he wonders why the city didn't spay and neuter the dogs and micro-chip them as required by city code. Normally, he said, the cost to retrieve all 27 dogs would have exceeded $3,000.
"If they let sick and badly treated animals back to their owner, that is inconsistent with what they should be doing," Trimble added. "We will be looking into this."
The city says it let the dogs go with out performing the spay, neuter and micro-chip procedures because the owner vowed he was taking the dogs out of the city. But every animal welfare professional we spoke to says the city ordinance makes no exceptions, all dogs leaving the city shelter must be sterilized and micro-chipped.
"We need to make sure we get our procedures right and make sure this doesn't happen again," Trimble added.