Photos of a baby, younger than 2-years-old, with a leash around his neck while down on all fours eating out of a dog food bowl went viral on Monday, and within 24 hours authorities in the Philippines where the deeply disturbing images were uploaded to Facebook had tracked down the baby — and the child’s mother, who was quickly taken into custody.
According to a report on the website of the Philippines Daily Inquirer newspaper, the photos appeared on a Facebook account credited to Ayra Dela Cruz Francisco, and showed the unclothed child being treated as if he were a dog.
On the Facebook posts, the woman claiming to the mom referred to the baby as her “pet.”
“My new pet dog,” she wrote, according to an Australia-based news site. “My child’s stoned to death he follows everything I told him. Got so many laughs here.”
But the Philippines authorities did not find the grotesque photos funny at all. In fact, the country’s Justice Secretary, Leila de Lima, said that, assuming the photos were real and not a hoax of some kind, they were evidence of “gross child abuse which is punishable under the Anti-Child Abuse Law.”
The next day, Philippines Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman announced that the mother and child had been located, and the baby — found to be about 18-months-old — was turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The seemingly demented mom was placed in custody and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation.
“Even if it was made in jest, it was done in bad taste. The child does not know that it is just a joke,” Soliman said Tuesday.
The mother was located in Bataan, a seaside province in the western Philippines, that protrudes into the South China Sea.
Reportedly, the mother told authorities that the photos were never intended to be taken seriously, and she was surprised that they went viral. She said that when the baby started mimicking the family dog, a relative looped a shoestring around the child’s neck as a joke.
The baby’s father, as well as his mother, must now be evaluated by the government’s Social Welfare department to determine if they are fit to raise the child.
The mom quickly closed down her Facebook account, but not before the photos of the baby on a leash had spread throughout the social media online universe.
[Image: Facebook via Philippine Daily Inquirer]