Chile - June 19, 2001
June 19 — A 10-year-old boy who had been abandoned by his parents survived for two years in a cave with a pack of stray dogs who scavenged for food with him and may even have suckled him, child care workers say.
The boy, thrown out of his home by abusive parents at the age of five, ran with 15 strays in the southern port town of Talcahuano after he escaped from a care center two years ago.
"He lived in a cave with dogs and roamed the streets for food with them. He would eat out of garbage cans and find leftovers," Delia Delgatto, head of Chile's National Child-care Service, told Reuters Monday.
She said earlier reports by the police that the boy had been brought up by dogs since he was a baby had turned out to be off the mark. "He wasn't reared by the dogs as such, he lived with them in a cave," she said.
The boy, who has not been named, threw himself into the wintry cold waters of the southern Pacific Ocean on Saturday to escape from police who had been alerted to his case by the municipality.
"A police officer dived into the water and saved him," a spokesman for the police said. He said the dogs looked after the boy: "They were like his family."
The child, dubbed "Dog Boy" by the Chilean media, spent a day in a hospital in the city of Concepcion and was then taken to a child care center.
"He's showing signs of depression, is aggressive and is not speaking much although he does know how to speak," Delgatto said. "He was dressed almost in rags, was dirty and had filthy hair."
The police spokesman said the boy had drunk milk from the breasts of one of the female dogs, but Delgatto said she did not know whether he had been suckled or not. "We can't tell whether he was or wasn't," she said.
Photographs taken on Monday showed the boy, dark
skinned with black hair, holding a child's crayon drawing
of a pack of dogs. Two of his front teeth were broken and
he had what appeared to be a scar on his left cheek.