Abandoned Baby With Broken Leg Sniffed Out by Dog in Family's Backyard Shed

A 9-month-old girl is recovering after a Texas couple found her injured and abandoned in their backyard shed.

John and Katharine McClain checked the shed after their dog, Archie, started sniffing and barking around it on Saturday morning in Livingston, Texas. Inside, they found a terrifying sight—a baby girl lying on the ground between a file cabinet and a motorcycle.

"I turned around and told my wife, 'Call 911. There's a baby in there,'" John told local news station KTRK-TV. "She was like, 'Huh?' She said, 'What are you talking about?' I told her, 'Call 911.'"

A dispatcher said the couple could pick up the girl and they wrapped her in a towel, noticing bruises on her face and body. A medical helicopter transferred the baby to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston with a broken leg, which had to be pinned during surgery. However, she is expected to recover from her injuries.

Backyard Shed
Above, a stock photo of a backyard shed next to a car. A 9-month-old girl is recovering after a Texas couple found her injured and abandoned in their backyard shed. Shepard Sherbell / Contributor/Corbis Historical

The McClains looked through their security camera and found footage of a mostly naked man identified as 43-year-old Clifford Jason Guynes, who is believed to be the child's father, Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish told Newsweek. Video showed Guynes holding the girl and walking into their shed around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. He then tried breaking into the couple's cars before stealing a neighbor's truck and driving off.

Officers with the Livingston Police Department examined the footage and attempted to lift fingerprints from several vehicles. While investigating, they were notified that San Jacinto County had located the stolen truck with Guynes inside.

Chief Parrish said that Guynes had been struck by a Union Pacific Railroad train early Saturday morning, laying parallel to the track, before he went to the McClains' shed. He was transported by the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Office to CHI St. Luke's Health Hospital in Livingston, where officers collected more information.

"Guynes stated he had left his daughter in a shed but could not remember where," said Parrish. "It is unclear at this time how Guynes's daughter received her injuries, but Guynes's injuries were not life-threatening and stated he was struck by the train."

Guynes has been charged with felony injury to a child causing serious bodily injury, felony child endangerment/abandonment and felony vehicle theft. He was booked into the Polk County Jail with bonds totaling over $200,000.

Authorities told local news station KPRC-TV that they were attempting to figure out why Guynes was out of jail after he was arrested on September 16 for violating parole. He has reportedly been arrested several times for drug and assault charges.

Katharine said as a mom herself, she was "pretty frantic and just shocked."

"I just want her to be happy and live a good life, you know?" she told local news station KHOU-TV. "If they gave her to me, I'll take her in a heartbeat. And she'll never have any worries again."

In response to highly publicized stories of abandoned infants who were sometimes left to die, Texas legalized relinquishing an unwanted infant in 1999. Since then, every state has enacted similar measures known as "safe haven" or "safe surrender" provisions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The specifics of these laws vary with regard to the infant's age (ranging from a limit of 72 hours to one year) and the places or personnel authorized to accept the baby (which may include hospital emergency staff, emergency medical technicians, firefighters or law enforcement officers). In Texas, an infant can be relinquished up to 60 days after birth.

Other Incidents of Abandoned Babies

In June, a premature baby was discovered by passersby in the street outside an apartment complex in Houston. Paramedics were unable to save the abandoned child, whom police officers described as a "fetus—very, very small."

Another baby was found dead on a porch by a woman leaving her house in Memphis, Tennessee, in March. The woman, a critical care nurse, found the boy naked and not breathing.

Meanwhile, on New Year's Eve 2021, a newborn miraculously survived after being placed in a cardboard box by the side of a road in Fairbanks, Alaska. A note found with the baby appealed for help, saying, "I was born 12 weeks premature. My mom was 28 weeks when she had me. My parents and grandparents don't have food or money to raise me. They NEVER wanted to do this to me."

Updated 09/27/2022, 1:26 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and additional information.