Two parents face charges after authorities say motorists spied a 10-year-old girl riding in a dog cage in the back of a pickup truck in western Pennsylvania.
“She wanted to be with her dog. She plays with him in here all the time. They were strapped in,” said Abbey Carlson, the girl’s mother.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports police say it happened around 7 p.m. Monday on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Millvale, just outside Pittsburgh. Authorities say they responded after getting reports from motorists who saw the girl riding in the back of the truck in the cage.
“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. We weren’t going fast. We weren’t,” Carlson said.
Carlson, 29, and stepfather, 30-year-old Thomas Fishinger, are now facing charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Police say they told them the girl had said she wanted to be with the dog.
“It was back there because we knew that it was three of us, so we couldn’t put the dog inside the cab,” Fishinger said.
KDKA-TV’s Ross Guidotti talked to the 30-year-old stepfather about the incident.
“Was she in the cage while the vehicle was being operated on the roadway?” Guidotti asked.
“Yes, sir,” Fishinger responded.
“And you weren’t concerned about maybe something bad happening with her back there?”
“I guess I was, but with everything going on.”
“It never occurred that, well the dog is going to have to deal with it until we get home?”
"I don’t want to dog to suffer. That’s like animal cruelty to me, you know, the dog crying like that."
“I just didn’t think it would be an issue,” Carlson said.
The two parents are facing felony charges of endangering the welfare of a child.
“I put two ratchet straps like a seat belt. There were two ratchet straps holding the cage down,” Fishinger said.
But even if they say they didn’t think it w as big deal at the time, they certainly think it is now.
“Oh, my God yes. I would never hurt my daughter.” Fishinger said. “She will never get in the back of a truck again.”
The child is now in the care of Carlson’s mother.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image via Reddit.