By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Jun 7, 2013
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - An Arizona girl is abandoned at a fire station.
Tonight police say they know her name but not much else.
The man who left her says she's better off.
Child welfare experts say that may not be true.
This bizarre case started Wednesday night in Phoenix.
Experts say it's very likely this man thought he was doing the right thing, taking her to a 'Safe Haven' location like a fire station.
Sadly, they say that move could end up hurting the girl more than helping.
She appears four or five years old with 'cognitive issues', according to police.
She was left by a man, who said he was not her father.
"We don't know obviously where her parents are or what the condition of the parents are," said one officer, to our affiliate KNXV.
All the man said, was that the mother may have been on drugs, and the girl was in danger.
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "Have you ever heard of a case like this?"
"This is pretty unusual. No I have not," responded Northwest fire captain Adam Goldberg.
He says if that man was looking for a 'Safe Haven' he was out of luck.
The law only lets parents leave newborn babies, up to three days old, at designated safe locations like fire stations.
It doesn't apply to a child plucked from her parents and from potential danger.
"That child ended up at a fire station, and if the potential threat chose to follow, a lot of people could have been put at risk," said Goldberg.
In the days since the drop, police have posted fliers and canvassed neighborhoods, hoping to find the girl's family and check into the man's claims.
Experts say it's an investigation that would have a much better shot had he just called for help.
"They know what to do to keep the child safe, to do it right away, to document what's going on so that the child will be safe long term," said attorney Louis Fidel.
So bottom line: if you suspect a child is in trouble, don't take. Talk.
"If you have any suspicion about child abuse, whether it be your neighbor or your friends, you need to call CPS, make a report and let them investigate," said Susie Huhn, CEO of Casa de los Niños.
It's a decision that might have made for a much easier transition for one scared, lonely little girl.
There have been questions about charges against the man who took this girl.
Fidel says kidnapping likely isn't in the cards, because the man's intent was good.
If you think you know a child suffering from abuse, here are the numbers to call.
Arizona's free, 24-hour hotline is 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 1-888-766-24453.
You can also dial 9-1-1.