The mutilated body of a newborn baby, with the umbilical cord still attached, was found by a St. Charles Parish man who had gone into his yard to feed his dog.

The body was found Thursday just within reach of the chained animal but it was unclear whether the dog had anything to do with the baby's death or the mutilation of the body.

The lower part of the body was missing. The body was wrapped in bloody white sheets or towels and was found just outside the gate of the kennel, Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes said.

The dog, a 4-year-old female mixed-breed Labrador retriever named Midnight, would not have harmed a child, homeowner Alice Wells said.

"She is a very gentle dog," Wells said. "She doesn't even eat table scraps."

Yoes said a family member went out to feed the dog shortly before 4 p.m. and discovered the body. Family members were being interviewed by sheriff's deputies Thursday evening, while investigators from the Sheriff's Office crime-scene squad inspected the house.

"We don't know if an animal dragged the body to the kennel or if a human placed it there," Yoes said.

Sheriff Greg Champagne said in a statement e-mailed to parish residents that detectives believe that the baby died a few hours before its body was discovered.

St. Charles animal control officials have custody of the dog.

Yoes said detectives are concerned about the health of the baby's mother.

"We're concerned that she needs medical attention," he said.