PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A couple who allowed a 10-year-old girl to ride in a dog cage in the back of a pickup truck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike appeared in court today where they were ordered to take parenting classes.

Abbey Carlson, 29, and Thomas Fishinger, 30, had a preliminary hearing after being arrested last month.

Previously, the couple said their daughter likes to play in the cage with her dog. So, when the dog started to cry during a drive home, they let her climb in.

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. Those charges against them remain open until they finish the parenting classes.

“I don’t think they’ll ever do it again,” said Komron Maknoon, the defense attorney, “and after the media attention this has been given, I don’t see the likelihood of this happening again around the country.”

The couple had no comment today.

But in court, the district justice gave them a lecture.

The magistrate said: “How dare you sit back there and listen to a 10-year-old girl. You used bad discretion. Engage the brain, Tom, Abby. Think!”

The couple’s attorney didn’t have a problem with the magistrate’s lecture.

“He has every right to be upset about hearing the facts of the case, and he wanted to drive home the importance of them recognizing that the behavior’s unacceptable,” said Maknoon.

Fishinger and Carlson have six weeks to complete the classes. If they don’t, the judge says he’ll revoke their bond and send them to jail.

Meanwhile, the little girl is in the custody of her grandmother.

Parents Charged After Girl Rides With Dog In Cage On Turnpike (5/28/13)
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