Police: Girl rode with dog in cage on Pennsylvania Turnpike

Published On: May 29 2013 07:15:53 AM HST

The mother of a 10-year-old girl and the woman's boyfriend are each facing a felony charge after the child was seen riding in a dog cage by other drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, police said.

Millvale police responded after getting reports from motorists who saw the girl in the bed of a blue pickup truck around 7 p.m. on Memorial Day. Police got the license plate and went to the address where the vehicle is registered, but the 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 the criminal complaint.

When police asked the driver, 30-year-old Thomas Fishinger, why the child was in the cage in the bed of the truck, his response was that "she asked to be with the dog," Morgan wrote.

Fishinger said that he and the girl and her 29-year-old mother, Abbey Carlson, were coming from his mother's house in Beaver County, according to the complaint.

Fishinger and Carlson were charged with endangering the welfare of a child and released on their own recognizance, police said. Nobody answered the door at their home in Millvale on Tuesday morning. The truck was being kept in the parking lot of a local towing company.
SLIDESHOW: Photos of the truck and the cage

The child's maternal grandmother, who did not want to be identified, said that the girl was with her on Tuesday morning and is embarrassed by the incident. But the grandmother also thinks it's being blown out of proportion in the news.

"They were coming home from Tom's mother's house and they had the puppy in the back of the truck," the grandmother said. "The cage was all strapped in. It was harnessed in, and my granddaughter wanted to sit in the back with the puppy, and they went to the end of a dirt road and she wanted to stay in longer, and my daughter and her boyfriend ride motorcycles, and they thought, you know, what's the harm if (the girl) is in the back getting that experience? It was just an innocent mistake on their behalf, and it was nothing more than that."

She added, "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."
"With everything that's going on in the news nowadays, if I saw a child in a cage, I think I'd call the police also. I really would. But they just didn't feel like she was in danger. They just didn't feel it."


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