Two Pennsylvania parents face several charges after they allegedly put their 10-year-old daughter in a dog cage while the family drove home from a Memorial Day gathering, authorities said Wednesday.
Police in Millvale, Pa., received calls from a motorist who had spotted the 10-year-old girl locked in a cage in the bed of a blue pickup truck around 7 p.m., local television station KSBW reports. Officers were able to obtain the vehicle’s license plate number, but when they arrived at the corresponding address, the pickup truck was not there.
"Officer Gapsy and I then set up on the area, and a short time later observed the vehicle turn onto Friday Road from Evergreen Road and a traffic stop was made. Officers could see the open bed of the truck, which had a dog cage with a small dog and a juvenile female in the cage," Officer Brandon Morgan wrote in a statement.
When officers asked the truck’s driver, 30-year-old Thomas Fishinger, why a 10-year-old child had been put in a cage, he reportedly responded that “she asked to be with the dog,” Morgan continued. Fishinger added that he and Abbey Carlson, the girl’s 29-year-old mother, were traveling home from his mother’s house in Beaver County, according to the statement.
Fishinger and Carlson were subsequently taken into custody, KSBW reports. Each offender has been charged with a felony count of endangering the welfare of a child, local police said.
The 10-year-old’s maternal mother, who declined to be identified, told KSBW that the child was with her on Tuesday morning. She expressed her embarrassment at the incident, and explained that the girl had asked to be put into the dog cage, KSBW reports. According to the grandmother, the 10-year-old’s parents didn’t believe that she was in any danger, as the cage had been strapped down.
"It was just an innocent mistake on their behalf, and it was nothing more than that," the grandmother told KSBW. "Yes, I quite possibly think that she could have been in danger. But I don't think that they were thinking of it that way. They would never put her in danger -- never. I know they wouldn't."