Cops: Pet ferrets maul newborn's face while mom is upstairs

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DARBY, Pa. (AP) — Authorities near Philadelphia say a trio of pet ferrets mauled a newborn who was left downstairs in her car seat, chewing off the baby's nose and part of her cheek and lip.

Officials say the month-old baby was attacked Thursday afternoon by ferrets that escaped from a cloth cage while the girl's mother went upstairs and her father was sleeping. Authorities say the baby was in stable condition in intensive care Friday after emergency reconstructive surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Police say four other young children have been placed with relatives amid concerns about their parents' ability to care for them.

"The parents, I believe, have problems," Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe told the Delaware County Daily Times. "They are challenged. They can't take care of these kids."

The ferrets scampered away when the mother came downstairs after hearing the baby's screams, Smythe said.

According to the website of the American Ferret Association, a healthy, a well-trained ferret shouldn't bite but needs to be taught acceptable behaviors like any other pet. The association says that ferrets and kids can play well together but that small children shouldn't be left alone with them or any other animal.

Smythe said investigators found more food for the family's ferrets and cats than for the children. Police have asked prosecutors to approve charges against the parents.

"Just imagine that 1-month-old baby, that can't help herself, (and) two or three animals are eating it alive," he said. "Imagine the pain."

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