Neighbor Finds Newborn Baby Abandoned in the Trash: “Her Little Legs Were Dangling Out of the Bag”

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 9, 2017   |   5:47PM   |   Washington, DC

A baby girl is recovering in the hospital after a New York family found her abandoned in a trash bag near their home.

Karen Seals, of Elmira, New York, said she and her sister discovered the baby Tuesday afternoon when they heard sounds and thought an animal was trapped in their neighbor’s garbage.

“My sister came out off the porch and went to the side to the back yard of my neighbor’s house with a stick, thinking it was a dog,” Seals told WENY News. “We thought it was a dog, honey, and it wasn’t. It was a baby!”

Seals said they found the infant with her legs hanging out of a garbage bag. She said she ran to the baby and tore open the garbage bag. When the infant did not respond, she said she took the baby into her home.

“She wasn’t breathing, so I opened her mouth … and I drop some water in there and she started gasping for air after I did that,” Seals said. “I just spoke to her: ‘Come on baby, come on baby, come on sweetness.’”

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When authorities arrived, they took the baby to a local hospital for treatment. The Washington Post reports the baby later was transported to another hospital, but she is in stable condition.

Local police Sgt. William Solt praised the local community for caring for the baby girl until an emergency response team arrived.

“The good Samaritans who found the child brought it inside, tried washing it up and immediately called 911,” Solt said. “They rendered as much first aid as possible until emergency responders could arrive on scene.”

Police said they also found the mother, allegedly Harriette M. Hoyt, 17, of Sayre, Pennsylvania. According to police, she has been charged with attempted second-degree murder. Police said the baby likely had been in the trash bag for 12 hours before Seals and her sister found her.

“All I wanted to do is cry for her,” Seals said. “I could just feel her heart, and what that little girl went through is wrong.”

All 50 states have safe haven laws to protect babies from abandonment and infanticide. Save haven laws allow mothers in crisis to leave their newborns in a safe environment, such as a hospital or fire station, without questions or repercussions. However, awareness about these laws is low.

Exactly how many babies these laws have protected is unknown. As the Post reports:

According to The Washington Post’s Ben Guarino, in 1999, Texas governor George W. Bush signed the first safe-haven bill into law after 13 dead infants were found in trash bins in Houston.

In Texas, about 50 infants had been surrendered under the safe-haven law between 2004 and 2011, according to the Dallas Morning News.

In that seven-year period, more than 1,600 children died of abuse or neglect, and more than 2,300 children of all ages were abandoned, the newspaper reported, citing state statistics.

If you or someone you know would like more information about relinquishing a newborn child, please call 1-866-99BABY1 or go to