Pregnant dog
A malnourished toddler was kept alive by breastfeeding from a neighbour's dogWikicommons

A toddler, found almost naked at a mechanic's workshop, was taken into care after being discovered breastfeeding from a next-door neighbour's pregnant dog. Chillian police say the two-year-old was starving and in need of care. Lory Escudero, the neighbour, called the authorities when she saw the boy being breastfed by her dog Reina.

"We have our dog who is there and she's pregnant," said Escurdero who lives in Arica city. "The hungry boy suckled on the dog's teats for milk. Everyone that is here, we're all parents and if you saw what we saw from my position as a woman, as a mother, it was terrible."

The child was admitted to hospital where he was treated for malnutrition, hair lice and skin infections. His mother was also at the medical facility, and according to police was in an inebriated condition. She was not arrested as no physical harm was done to the child.

Captain Diego Gajardo told AP that the child was released from a hospital Friday is under the care of child welfare authorities. According to Global News, a court hearing on 22 September will decide on the next course of action for the boy. The desert port of Arica, around 2,000km north of the capital, Santiago, is a poverty-stricken area in Chile where thousands of Bolivians and Peruvians come to looking for work.

Human-animal breastfeeding is practiced in many cultures over the centuries. Goats and donkeys were used to breastfeed abandoned babies in foundling hospitals during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Donkeys were preferred in England and according to writer Samuel Radbill in The Role of Animals in Infant Feeding, "nothing was more picturesque than the spectacle of babies, held under the bellies of the donkeys in the stable adjoining the infants' ward, sucking contentedly the teats of the docile donkeys".