updated 12/13/2006 3:08:38 AM ET 2006-12-13T08:08:38

A pit bull puppy chewed off four of a baby girl's toes while the child's parents slept, police here said Monday. The parents were booked on charges of child desertion and criminal negligence and were being held in the Bossier Parish Jail pending an initial court appearance.

Police said the parents were sleeping on a mattress in the living room of their residence and the month-old girl was in an infant seat beside them when the puppy began chewing on their baby's toes.

Mary Shannon Hansche, 22, and Christopher Wayne Hansche, 26, told police they woke up to the sound of the baby crying, found her mangled foot and took her to the hospital about 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

"They did not see the dog injuring the child," police spokesman Mark Natale said.

The girl underwent surgery Sunday at Sutton's Children's Hospital in Shreveport. There was no way to reattach the child's toes, Natale said Monday.

‘Essentially a puppy’
The puppy was 6 weeks old and had no record of receiving its shots and will be quarantined for 10 days to check for rabies. Natale said he did not know what the puppy's fate would be after that.

"The puppy itself was just several weeks old! I mean this was essentially a puppy," Natale said.

"This puppy might have been trying to nurse on the toes of this baby," veterinarian Michael Dale speculated. "I know that sounds a little far fetched, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind."

Teresa Miller, who sold the puppy to the Hansches, was skeptical the dog did it. "He didn't chew on anything while he was with me. Out of all of them (in the litter), he was the least chewy."

Another veterinarian, Dr. Valri Brown, said if the puppy chewed off the infant's toes, it would not have happened quickly. "It would have to be a period of time — maybe at least an hour," she said.

Meanwhile, the puppy's been quarantined at Bossier City's animal control office for the next 10 days to check for rabies. Natale said he did not know what the puppy's fate would be after that.

When she is released from the hospital, the child will be placed in a foster home until the case against her parents is settled, officials said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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