MILLVALE (KDKA) – A couple is facing charges after a 10-year-old girl rode in a dog cage in the back of a pickup truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

“She wanted to be with her dog. She plays with him in here all the time. They were strapped in,” Abbey Carlson said,

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Today, the two spoke about the incident claiming it was all a misunderstanding. The parents Carlson, 29, and stepfather, 30-year-old Thomas Fishinger, said their daughter likes to play in the cage with her dog. So, when the dog started to cry during the drive home they let her climb in.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. We weren’t going fast. We weren’t,” Carlson said.

“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: Was she in the cage while the vehicle was being operated on the roadway?

Fishinger: Yes, sir.

Guidotti: And you weren’t concerned about maybe something bad happening with her back there?

Fishinger: I guess I was, but with everything going on.

Guidotti: It never occurred that, well the dog is going to have to deal with it until we get home.

Fishinger: I don’t want to dog to suffer. That’s like animal cruelty to me, you know, the dog crying like that.

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“I just didn’t think it would be an issue,” Carlson said.

State police were notified about the girl in the cage and told the Millvale Police to be on the lookout. They arrested the couple when they got to their Evergreen Road home.

Both are facing felony counts 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.

Straps or no straps Carlson and Fishinger realize this was a big mistake.

“Oh, my God yes. I would never hurt my daughter.” Fishinger said. “She will never get in the back of a truck again.”

They were released on their own recognizance and the girl is currently in the care of Carlson’s mother.

Watch Bob Allen’s report:

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