CHITA, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - Police in the East Siberian city of Chita have reported a chilling case of child abuse, in which a five-year-old girl was kept locked in a room with dogs and cats for several years, causing her to behave like an animal.
The Chita police department said on its website that the apartment was searched after a tip-off.
"For almost five years, the girl was brought up by several cats and dogs, and never went outside," the report said.
After years of malnourishment and lack of contact with humans, despite sharing the three-room flat with her father, grandmother, grandfather and other relatives, the girl has not learned to speak, and makes only animal-like noises.
Police found the girl "unwashed, in dirty clothes, and with the obvious habits of a domestic animal; she greeted the police officers by leaping at them like a dog."
The report said the family was living in squalor, and that "the water, heating, gas, and sanitation had long ago been switched off."
The statement said a criminal case has been opened against family members, but that the maximum prison term is three years. The father was not in the flat when the police found the girl, and his whereabouts are unknown. The mother called in at a police station on finding out that her daughter had been taken.
The girl, who is at the physical development stage of a two or three year old, is now being treated in a rehabilitation center. She reportedly has a good appetite, but insists on lapping up her food straight from her plate.
Medics at the center say that when nurses leave the room she rushes to the door and barks. Specialist doctors are currently studying the girl.