GREENSBORO, NC – A lot of people are asking “why” after authorities found 3 pit bulls left alone -- chained up behind an abandoned house on Grove Street in Greensboro.

One of the dogs died.

The other two were badly undernourished.

There's no word how long the dogs were chained up alone outside.

Authorities just got the tip about the dead dog on Tuesday from Marcus Allred, who lives right behind the house where the dogs were abandoned.

"It's just heartbreaking to see dogs in this condition,” said Allred. “Dogs are meant to be man's best friend. They're supposed to come in and be loved and be fed and watered. For someone to treat them like that, it's just heartbreaking. I can't believe that something like this could happen in my own neighborhood."

Allred says over the past few months, he’s called in several reports about the dogs roaming the neighborhood unsupervised.

Now that one dog was discovered dead and two others emaciated, Allred and others are wondering why the dogs weren’t rescued sooner.

"Animal control supposedly came out and nothing got better. In fact it got worse,” said Allred. “It's just heartbreaking. Who do you turn to when nobody else is helping?"

WFMY News 2 found out Guilford Animal Control Services had investigated the Grove Street house before Tuesday.

Over the last 6 months, neighbors have called in seven reports about the dogs roaming around the neighborhood.

“These dogs have been wandering the neighborhood for months and months. We've been calling animal control and they never would do anything,” said Allred. “It was just breaking my heart. I didn't know they were chained in the back. I didn't know or I would have fed them.”

However, Drew Brinkley, the Director of Guilford Co. Animal Control Services says there is a logical explanation for this.

Brinkley says all of those calls were related to either tethering issues or the dogs roaming the neighborhood.

But prior to yesterday, Brinkley says there were no reports of the dogs being starved or mistreated.

Therefore, they didn't have the authority to impound them.

"If the concerns were animals running at large for instance, that's what we would address unless we saw something else that related to mistreatment while we were out there,” said Brinkley. “We do try to look at the whole picture of what's going on when we get to a property."

Brinkley says each report they receive is handled differently depending on the situation.

There's a big difference between animal cruelty, neglect, and animal abuse and how they're handled by authorities.

As for the three pit bulls found abandoned Tuesday, Brinkley says even though animal control officers investigated the house multiple times – they never found evidence of the dogs being mistreated.

By law, authorities were not allowed to take them away.

"It depends on what the situation is. If the animal doesn't have food or water or shelter, what we may do is just provide notification with corrective actions and a timeframe to make those changes,” said Brinkley. “If it is something that is much more critical, we may have to impound right away."

According to Brinkley, animal control officers can issue warnings, citations, or impound animals depending on what the previous history is and what the scale of the situation is like.

Charges are pending against the owner of the 3 abandoned dogs.

The two dogs that survived are impounded at the animal shelter until the investigation is complete.

Meanwhile, Animal Control Services says they left two dogs behind at the Grove Street house even though their owners don't live there anymore.

Brinkley says there was no evidence that those particular dogs were being starved or mistreated.

So again, officers didn't have the authority to take them away, according to Brinkley.