An hours-old baby girl who was left on the streets of an Indian village by her parents survived being abandoned thanks to a stray dog who looked after her, police said.
A female dog was seen protecting the baby and her four puppies near a house in Lormi village in central Chhattisgarh state on Saturday.
The newborn girl, with her umbilical cord still attached to her body, was found by villagers after she survived a cold night on the street.
The dog reportedly watched over the girl and her own puppies and fiercely prevented people from approaching them.
“We got a call from the locals about the abandoned child and immediately reached the spot. I saw her lying next to three or four puppies and the mother dog guarding her,” police officer Rajkumar Sahoo said.
“It was a very emotional sight … the child had no clothes and the umbilical cord was still attached. Luckily she doesn’t have any injuries,” he told The National.
Pictures shared by a district administrative officer on Twitter showed the infant lying next to four puppies.
The child was rushed to a local hospital for first aid and kept under observation before being handed over to a childcare charity.
“This is shocking … the baby could have been left at a temple or given to someone,” Mr Sahoo said.
Police say they have filed a case against the unknown people for abandoning and risking the child’s life and have launched a search to find them.
Abandoning a child is a crime in India but is a very common practice.
Many unwanted babies, particularly girls, are left to die in secluded places or even buried by their parents.
More than 747 children were abandoned in 2020, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. The true number of children abandoned each year is believed to be much higher than official figures show.
Traditional Indian parents have a preference for sons, spurring families to abandon girls at birth because they see them as a financial burden because of expensive education and having to provide a dowry for marriage.
Last month, a five-day-old baby girl was rescued from a drain in Mumbai.
In October last year, a 10-day-old baby girl was rescued by police from bushes in southern Hyderabad city.