"I didn't think it was that big of a deal. We weren't going fast."
That's what Abbey Carlson told CBS Pittsburgh after she was caught by a concerned driver driving down the road with her daughter in a dog cage strapped to the bed of a truck. Carlson and her husband Thomas Fishinger tried to justify putting the 10-year-old girl in a strapped-down dog cage.
Apparently the girl often played with the dog in his cage. Fishinger claims he was worried about the dog's welfare, since the dog was whining in the back.
"I don't want a dog to suffer," Fishinger told CBS Pittsburgh. "That's like animal cruelty to me, you know, the dog crying like that."
Although Carlson says she now realizes that it was a big deal after all, her realization has come too late. Carlson and Fishinger are now facing felony child endangerment charges. The girl is now in the custody of Carlson's mother.
Recommendations of traffic safety bureaus and police say to keep a child in a booster seat until they are 4 foot, 9 inches tall.
Is it legal to carry a child in the back of a pickup even if he or she is not in a dog cage? According to Attorneys.com, 20 states have no laws prohibiting riders in the back of pickup trucks. Most of these states contain substantial rural areas where pickup trucks are needed for work uses. The remaining 30 states have laws designed for the protection of children. Some of them extend to ages as old as 19, while a few prohibit any riding in the back. Probably the most lenient is Colorado's law, which allows pickup-bed riding as long as the riders are seated and the area is enclosed on all four sides: sorry, but no hanging your feet off the tailgate.