A cop in the U.S. said he was ‘heartbroken’ after finding a seven-year-old kid trying to sell his teddy bear on the street, so he could eat for the first time in days.
Officer Steve Dunham found the young boy trying to peddle his toy in front of a drug store to get money for food.
He soon took him to Subway, but when two officers came to his parents home in Franklin, Ohio for further investigation later that’s when the severity of this case came to light. They found he had been living among garbage, cat urine and liquor bottles.
His parents, Tammi and Michael Bethel, who told authorities that they didn’t even realise their son had gone missing, have been charged with 10 counts of child endangerment between them, the Daily Mail report.
Speaking to WLWT, Dunham said:
It broke my heart. He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.(We) said a little prayer and ate dinner together.
Police Chief Russ Whitman said Dunham gave the boy comfort and safety that he didn’t have at home:
(Police) treated them like their own kids, and that’s exactly what law enforcement does in situations like this. How would we want someone to treat our kids? Hopefully, these officers’ actions change these kids’ lives and maybe change the lives of the parents to become better parents.
However, the mother-of-five hit back. Commenting on the Franklin Police Department’s Facebook post about the incident, she defended the state of her home.
Tammi added that she intended to file a lawsuit against the police department.
The seven-year-old boy and his brothers, aged 11, 12, 15 and 17, have been removed from the home and are now staying with family members.
Tammi and Michael Bethel are due to appear at a pre-trial hearing scheduled on September 16th.