S A N T I A G O, June 19, 2001 -- A 10-year-old Chilean boy whohad been abandoned by his parents survived for two years in acave with a pack of stray dogs who scavenged for food with himand may even have suckled him, child care workers saidMonday.
The boy, thrown out of his home by abusive parents at theage of five, ran with 15 strays in the southern port town ofTalcahuano after he escaped from a care center two years ago. "He lived in a cave with dogs and roamed the streets forfood with them. He would eat out of garbage cans and findleftovers," Delia Delgatto, head of Chile's National Child-care Service, toldReuters. She said earlier reports by the police that the boy hadbeen brought up by dogs since he was a baby had turned out tobe off the mark. "He wasn't reared by the dogs as such, helived with them in a cave," she said.
Leapt Into the Sea to Avoid Capture
The boy, who has not been named, threw himself into thewintry cold waters of the southern Pacific Ocean on Saturday toescape from police who had been alerted to his case by themunicipality. "A police officer dived into the water and saved him," a spokesman for the police said. He said the dogs looked afterthe boy: "They were like his family." The child, dubbed "Dog Boy" by the Chilean media, spenta day in hospital in the city of Concepcion and was then takento a child care center. "He's showing signs of depression, is aggressive and is notspeaking much although he does know how to speak," Delgattosaid. "He was dressed almost in rags, was dirty and had filthyhair."
Nursed by a Dog?
The police spokesman said the boy had drunk milk from thebreasts of one of the female dogs, but Delgatto said she didnot know whether he had been suckled or not. "We can't tellwhether he was or wasn't," she said. Photographs taken Monday showed the boy, dark skinnedwith black hair, holding a child's crayon drawing of a pack ofdogs. Two of his front teeth were broken and he had whatappeared to be a scar on his left cheek.