Two caretakers are facing child abuse charges after allegedly holding a 9-year-old girl in a dog kennel at her home in Norway, Wisconsin.
Dale Deavers, 48, and Gail LaLonde, 47, were taken into custody for causing mental harm to a child, false imprisonment, and several other felony charges, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators said they learned the child was being kept in the kennel – which measured 4 feet 10 inches in height, 4 feet in length and 8 feet wide – at night and occasionally throughout the day.
They said the dog kennel was padlocked to prevent the child from escaping.
“I was sickened at what I witnessed last night,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “This by far is one of the most disturbing and heart-wrenching cases of child abuse I’ve seen, it doesn’t get much worse than this.”
The victim and a sibling have been placed into protective custody. have threatened Harvey victims with eviction and late fees in Houston as tenants try to recover from the devastating storm, calling for intervention from city authorities.
We are paying rent for somewhere we can’t live in. They said ‘you aren’t the only ones in this situation,’ but what are we supposed to do? We don’t have any money. We don’t have anything,” Rocio Fuentes explained to the Guardian.
“Our landlords say we have to pay rent and late fees and every day it is going up,” she added.
Former tenant and Harvey victim Isela Bezada was taken to court and evicted shortly after the hurricane.
“There are a lot of property owners who aren’t conscious of what has gone on; they are being rude and kicking people out,” she said, “There are people who have been hit really badly by these floods. We are all human beings. We all deserve help.”
A representative of Houston’s housing department stated authorities are aware of the situation, but that landlords are protected by law.
Per Texas law, either tenant or landlord may terminate a lease if the property is deemed uninhabitable due to natural disaster. However, Houston city ordinances permit owners to charge rent and late fees if the living area is determined to be partially usable, with the court only allotting a small reduction to tenants willing to fight the notices.
Officials and clergy members from the Metropolitan Organization called on city officials Saturday to intervene on behalf of tenants and give at least a three week grace period.
“TMO is convening this group because pastors and families are afraid of evictions for not being able to pay rent, due to a week without work caused by Hurricane Harvey,” the community organizing group said in a statement. “This loss of income is devastating to families and evictions will exacerbate financial hardships and instability during this recovery period.”
Other landlords in the area state they are willing to work with their tenants, who, unable to leave the city and get to their jobs, have unavoidably fallen behind in the wake of the storm.
Over 203,000 homes were damaged or destroyed when Harvey slammed Houston on Aug. 25, leaving 52 inches of rain and devastating floods in its wake.