Police in Chile said that they rescued a naked and starving toddler who was found being breastfed by a pregnant dog after his mother neglected him.
A local resident, Lory Escudero, said she saw the 2-year-old on Thursday, feeding hungrily by suckling on the teats of her pregnant dog called Reina (“Queen”) at a mechanic workshop in a poor area of in the Chilean desert port of Arica, about 1,200 miles north of Santiago.
“We have our dog who is there and she’s pregnant. The hungry boy suckled on the dog’s teats for milk.”
“Everyone that is here, we’re all parents and if you saw what we saw from my position as a woman, as a mother, it was terrible.”
Police captain Diego Gajardo told the Associated Press that officers rushed to the scene to rescue the infant and took him to nearby Hospital Regional Dr. Juan Noe.
Officer Gajardo told the Star of Arica that the infant showed evident signs of abandonment. Hospital staff found that he was malnourished and suffering from skin infection and lice infestation.
The toddler’s mother had apparently left him for a long time without food and water, and unable to bear the thirst and hunger, he was forced to feed from the dog.
The infant might have been saved from starvation by breast milk from the dog, officials said.
The boy’s mother reportedly showed up at the hospital “dead drunk,” neighbors said. But police said they did not arrest her because the child did not have any physical injuries, despite the fact that he was malnourished.
The boy’s father also showed up at the hospital, but his role in the child’s condition was unclear.
It was also unclear where the parents were at the time the child was found at the mechanic’s workshop.
The boy was released from hospital on Friday and placed in the care of the child welfare authorities.
Marcela Labrana, the director of Chile’s National Service For Minors, expressed gratitude to neighbors who alerted police about the incident.
He described the situation as “inhumane” and “reprehensible.”
He said it “gives us a lot of embarrassment,” but added that, “we do not know for sure whether this [the infant being fed by a dog] saved his life.”
He said that his agency has filed a complaint in a family court against the parents for neglecting their child.