Dog saves abandoned baby

Stray credited with bringing infant from woods to village

Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2005

 

  Felix Omondi, middle, with his brothers Kennedy Olouch, left, 10 years and Collins Otieno, right, 8 years, with their dog now named Mkombozi (Saviour) in a compound on the outskirts of Nairobi, Wednesday, May 11, 2005, Mkombozi a nursing dog foraging for food retrieved an abandoned baby girl in a forest and carried the infant to its litter of puppies last week. The stray dog, who lives with the children in the compound, carried the infant across a busy road and a barbed wire fence in a low-income neighborhood bordering the Ngong Forests in the capital, Nairobi. AP Photo/Sayyid Azim

Felix Omondi, middle, with his brothers Kennedy Olouch, left, 10 years and Collins Otieno, right, 8 years, with their dog now named Mkombozi (Saviour) in a compound on the outskirts of Nairobi, Wednesday, May 11, 2005, Mkombozi a nursing dog foraging for food retrieved an abandoned baby girl in a forest and carried the infant to its litter of puppies last week. The stray dog, who lives with the children in the compound, carried the infant across a busy road and a barbed wire fence in a low-income neighborhood bordering the Ngong Forests in the capital, Nairobi.

AP Photo/Sayyid Azim

NAIROBI, Kenya — Police arrested the suspected mother of an infant girl — dubbed "Angel" by hospital officials — who was abandoned in a Kenyan forest and reportedly rescued by a stray dog, officials said.

The dog apparently found the baby wrapped in a plastic bag in the nearby Ngong Forest, said Mary Adhiambo and other neighbors who witnessed the baby's recovery in a litter of puppies.

The dog, now called "Mkombozi" or "Savior," reportedly dragged the baby across a road and through some barbed wire to a compound in the poor Nairobi neighborhood where puppies from two stray dogs were sheltering.

"I saw a dog carrying a baby wrapped in a black dirty cloth as it crossed the road," witness Stephen Thoya was quoted by the independent Daily Nation newspaper as saying. "I was shocked at first, and when I tried to get a closer look, the dog ran through the fence and disappeared along a dirt road."

The infant was discovered after two children said they heard the sound of a baby crying near their wooden and corrugated-iron shack. Residents found the infant lying next to the dog and her own pup.

The young woman, who acknowledged she was pregnant but claimed she had an abortion was arrested Wednesday night following a tip, Lang'ata District Police Commander Joshua Omukata told The Associated Press.

The woman lives in the neighborhood where Angel was found and "was seen pregnant days before the child was discovered in a group of dogs," Omukata said.

Doctors believe the infant was about two weeks old when she was found May 6.

Investigators tried to locate the doctor who the 25-year-old woman says performed the abortion but were unable to find him Friday, said Lang'ata District Police Commander Joshua Omukata.

"Because we could not get that doctor, we are still holding the lady in custody," Omukata told The Associated Press. "We want to follow it up until we find out the truth."

Police handed over the case Friday to the office of the director of criminal investigations, which deals solely with serious offenses, Omukata said.

"If we fail to find where she dumped the fetus, then we shall consider charges against her," Omukata said.

The woman said she had an abortion three weeks ago, Omukata said. He said initially he understood that the woman claimed she had miscarried, but he was misinformed.

The woman was taken for a medical examination Thursday. If results are inconclusive, police may resort to DNA testing in an effort to determine whether she was related to the infant, Omukata said.

"We are in the middle of investigations. We don't have any other suspect at the moment." Omukata said.

A government spokesperson and others have expressed some skepticism about the story of the dog's role in saving the child, saying it may be too good to be true. But many have been touched by reports of the rescue. The story continues to attract an outpouring of concern in Kenya as well as abroad.

Unwanted infants are often abandoned in Kenya, with poverty and failed relationships frequently to blame. Kenya's weak law enforcement and social security systems mean that most people who forsake their babies are never caught.

At the Kenyatta National Hospital, where Angel is being treated for exposure and an infection in her umbilical cord, 16 abandoned children are currently being cared for.

Well-wishers as far as the United States have sent e-mails to The Associated Press and called the country's main hospital to inquire about adopting the child.

Others sent e-mails with offers of adopting the dog. But Mary Adhiambo, who has now adopted the animal, said she was not ready to give up the canine.

Animal welfare workers sterilized the dog in an effort to improve her quality of life. Now the dog will have to feed only herself, instead of seeking enough food for puppies as well.



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