A Florida mother is accused of routinely keeping her 3-year-old son with Down syndrome locked in a dog cage while she picked up her daughter from school.
Per the Orlando Sentinel, Department of Children and Families received a tip indicating that the boy was left alone and held in a cage. DCF alerted the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, which in turn arrested Shirlisa Hodge, 39, Wednesday following an investigation.
Charged with child neglect, Hodge reportedly told officers that her husband would watch their son during his work break. However, she changed her story, admitting that he would leave him alone for 15 minutes at a time, but claiming it wasn’t a common occurrence, according to WKMG.
The mother allegedly went on to say that she couldn’t find anyone to watch her son because he had Down syndrome.
The news station reported that police recovered a dog cage and a gate which would be placed in front of the toddler’s room when he was left alone. They also noted that the gate was low enough for the child to climb over.
However, police said they never saw the child in the cage and that a dog was in the cage when they arrived, according to WOFL. The Sentinel reported that the toddler was uninjured.
Since then, the woman’s husband, Albert Hodge denied there was a dog cage located in their home. He told WOFL that it’s “impossible” his wife would imprison their son in that manner.
“She’s not neglectful, nothing like that. … She lives for the children,” he said.
[Featured image: Shirlisa Hodge/Volusia County Sheriff’s Office]