Witnesses: Dog cared for abandoned baby

Monday, May 9, 2005 Posted: 3:11 PM EDT (1911 GMT)

Doctors at Nairobi's Kenyatta National Hospital say the infant was not harmed during the ordeal.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- A newborn baby abandoned in a Kenyan forest was saved by a stray dog who apparently carried her across a busy road and through a barbed wire fence to a shed where the infant was discovered nestled with a litter of puppies, witnesses said Monday.

The baby girl, named "Angel" by hospital workers, was clad in a tattered shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag when the dog found her Friday, according to Aggrey Mwalimu, owner of the shed where the baby was discovered in a poor neighborhood near the Ngong Forest in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"When the dog picked up the baby in a dirty bag, it came and dropped her behind the wooden building where the dog has its puppies," Mwalimu told The Associated Press Monday.

The 7-pound, 4-ounce infant was taken to a hospital and "is doing well, responding to treatment. She is stable ... she is on antibiotics," said Hannah Gakuo, spokeswoman of the Kenyatta National Hospital.

The baby was found after two children reported hearing an infant's cries near their wood-and-corrugated-metal shack.

"I followed them outside and we started looking around the compound and a nearby plot," said Mary Adhiambo, the children's mother.

They eventually found the tan mixed-breed dog lying protectively with a puppy beside the mud-splattered baby wrapped in a torn black shirt, Adhiambo said. The short-haired dog with light brown eyes has no name, residents said.

Adhiambo told the Daily Nation newspaper that she used warm water to wash the baby, cleaning the umbilical cord with rubbing alcohol, then dressed her in fresh clothes and fed her as neighbors gathered at the shack on hearing news of the discovery.

Residents took the infant to a nearby police station before taking her to the Kenyatta National Hospital, officers at the station told the AP.

Doctors believe the baby had been abandoned about two days before the dog discovered her, said Gakuo, the hospital spokeswoman.

"She cried a lot during admission, because her umbilical cord was infected," Gakuo said. "She is now very quiet. She just feeds and sleeps. I was there this morning and she looked at me and yawned, looked at me again and yawned."

Dozens of Kenyans have visited the baby, who has curly black hair, in the hospital after learning of her rescue, Gakuo said.

"She is now fine. She is warm. She is in a separate room ... with a lady who is also nursing a baby admitted in hospital for treatment," Gakuo said. "The lady is looking after her as if she is her own child."

Infant abandonment is a problem in Kenya, where poverty and the inability to care for the child are blamed. Most people who abandon babies are never caught.

Officials were not able to immediately provide figures on abandoned babies, but Gakuo said that each month, about two infants are brought to the main public hospital in the capital alone.

"Abandoned babies are normally taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital because it is a public hospital," Gakuo said. "People are now donating diapers and baby clothes for this one."

This stray dog carried the abandoned baby to its litter of puppies, witnesses said Monday.