A six-year-old boy is so hungry he feeds on milk from the teat of a stray dog in India.

Chotu Kumar is so comfortable with the pack of dogs, he can be seen grabbing at the bitch’s hind legs so he can get a drink.

And amazingly the stray dog lets him.

Chotu said: “Our family is very poor, sometimes I get hungry.

“The dog doesn’t bite me. I like her and she likes me, she treats me like one of her puppies. I love to play with the dogs, they’re my friends.”

Chotu lives with his mother Shanichari Devi, 37, his grandmother Amiya Devi, 60, and his two brothers Bola, 14, and three-year-old Mahesh in a mud house in Jharkhand, Eastern India.

After his father’s death four years ago the family dropped below the poverty line.

His older brother was forced to go out to work to earn money for the family but he only brings home under £20 a month (1200INR) working at a nearby hotel.

Chotu’s mum and gran go out to the forest and collect firewood and try their best to find forest food.

But on average their daily meals consist of vegetables and roti, a homemade Indian bread.

According to UNICEF 90 per cent of children under the age of three are malnourished in rural areas of Jharkhand and a further 25,000 children die every year.

Chotu started spending all his time with the pack two years ago. He didn’t go to school so he didn’t have any friends – and now he claims the dogs are his only pals.

The family hadn’t eaten solid foods or milk for days when Shanichari first spotted her son sitting on the floor drinking milk from the dog’s teat.

She said: “While he was playing with the dogs outside the house I saw him drinking the bitch’s milk.

“I was so shocked, I ran over and pulled him away. But ever since whenever he is hungry he has always slipped back. I have let him because I know how hungry he is.

“The dog has always been friendly with him and never attacks him. He often rides on her back and then he jumps off and nurses from her along with her pups.”

The dog has been known to sit outside Chotu’s mud house and bark for him to come out and play.

But when local villagers found out about Chotu and his new friends they began to get angry. They were worried other children were at risk and that there would be a rabies outbreak.

Shanichari said: “Villagers kept telling us he’d die of some disease if he carried on drinking it and it’d spread to the other children. But Chotu carried on.”

Eventually villagers reported Chotu to local officials and they stepped in.

Chotu was admitted to school where he gets a free lunch and the authorities gave his family a food card, which allowed them to get food aid.

But still the dog continues to visit Chotu and it has become a habit for him to drink her milk.

Shanichari said: “Villagers kept telling us he’d die of some disease if he carried on drinking it and it’d spread to the other children. But Chotu carried on.”

Eventually villagers reported Chotu to local officials and they stepped in.

Chotu was admitted to school where he gets a free lunch and the authorities gave his family a food card, which allowed them to get food aid.

But still the dog continues to visit Chotu and it has become a habit for him to drink her milk.

Chotu said: “I suck her milk three times a day and it tastes sweet like sugar.

“Many people in the village don’t like my friendship with the dogs but I am happy – if she isn’t near my home I go looking for her outside the village.

“She’s always happy to see me and lets me have some milk.”

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