A severely neglected toddler in Chile was kept alive after a pregnant dog started breastfeeding him.
The two-year-old boy, who has not been identified, was spotted feeding from his neighbor's canine, Reina, after his drunken mother allegedly left him without food or water in the desert port of Arica.
Police were called to the scene and the naked infant was taken to Hospital Regional Dr. Juan Noé, some 1,240 miles north of the country's capital, Santiago, where he was found to be malnourished.
He was also suffering from a skin infection and a lice infestation, according to 24Horas.cl.
Officials believe the boy - who was seen feeding from Reina ('Queen') at a mechanic's workshop in a poor area of the port on Thursday - may have been saved from starvation by the dog's breast milk.
Speaking to the Star of Arica, Police Captain Diego Gajardo said the toddler displayed clear signs of 'abandonment'. He was seen by a passerby hungrily feeding from the pregnant canine, he said.
While the infant was in hospital, his mother showed up 'dead drunk', according to neighbors.
Gajardo told The Associated Press the toddler was later released from hospital and temporarily placed in the care of local child welfare authorities. However, his mother has not been arrested.
This is because the boy did not have any physical injuries, said Gajardo - despite confirming that the child was malnourished. The captain did not mention the claims about lice and the skin infection.
The boy's father later showed up at the hospital - although his role in the child's plight is unclear. It is also unclear where either parent was when the youngster was spotted in the mechanic's workshop.
Marcela Labraña, of Chile's National Service For Minors, said he was extremely 'embarrassed' about the child's neglect in Arica, where thousands of people live in poverty in crowded slums.
'This is a story that gives us a lot of embarrassment,' he said, describing the situation as 'inhumane' and 'reprehensible'. 'We do not know for sure whether this (being fed by a dog) or not saved his life.'
The National Service for Minors has now filed a complaint for neglect in relation to the child.
A family court hearing is scheduled for September 22 to determine who will care for the boy.