Animal control officials in Texas are seeking answers regarding a Belgian-born dog that somehow ended up starving and alone in San Antonio.
The dog, a Belgian Malinois, was found by San Antonio Animal Care Services during an animal cruelty investigation, according to mySanAntonio.com. Officials named her Lady and took her to a shelter.
When ACS found Lady, she was malnourished and suffering from hair loss. The only clue to her identity was a mysterious tattoo of the letters B-H-K-E-D-E on the inside of her ear.
The tattoo combined with Lady's breed -- Belgian Malinois are frequently bred for military or police work -- made officials think she might have come from a nearby military base.
"ACS investigators have been searching for any records of Lady's previous training or deployment," ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the search has been a dead end with the military working dog group from Lackland [Air Force Base], the TSA and the National Dog Registry's tattoo database."
Unable to find answers on their own, officials turned to the public for help. Hours after Lady's pictures and information were released and reported on, viewers of local station KSAT reported their findings.
Working off the tattoo, KSAT viewers were able to learn that Lady's real name is Elta and she is from the small Belgian town of Orp LeGrand.
"We are amazed at how quickly your viewers were able to solve this pretty girl's mystery tattoo," Norwood told KSAT. "We know her name is Elta and she's 12 years old but how does a dog get from a small town in Belgium to a backyard in South Texas? That's what we hope to find out and we've reached out to her original owner to see if he can shed a light on how Elta came to be in San Antonio."
The Belgian records uncovered for Elta show she has a passport that allows her to travel internationally, according to KSAT.
Commenters on KSAT's Facebook paged theorized about Elta's origins and expressed their fears that ACS might put her down if no owner is found.
"Unfortunately I am guessing military," wrote one commenter. "NATO is in Belgium. I am hoping this elderly dog makes it out of ACS alive. They are a high kill shelter."
"ACS is just going to put the dog down," wrote another. "That's what ACS does!"
KSAT tried to quell fears by responding to those comments on its Facebook page, saying, "ACS has said she will make a full recovery and has said nothing about putting her down."