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7-year-old found selling teddy bear for food; officer has meal with child, finds out he lives in squalor

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WATCH ABOVE: An Ohio officer is being praised for going beyond his policing duties on helping a seven-year-old boy who was seen trying to sell his stuffed animal for food. Tammy Mutasa reports – Aug 12, 2016

A seven-year-old Ohio boy was found trying to sell his stuffed animal for food over the weekend and one officer is being credited for going beyond the call of duty to help.

An unidentified seven-year-old boy from Franklin, Ohio was seen trying to sell his teddy bear in front of a local CVS drug store, on Aug. 7. And according to the police who found the boy, it was an unfortunate situation to witness.

Dunham then brought the boy to Subway to get him a meal, took him back to the Franklin Police Department and ate the food with the boy.

“[We] said a little prayer and ate dinner together,” Dunham told WLWT.
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According to Talk Poverty, in 2015 Ohio ranked as the 16th state with the highest percentage – 22.5 per cent – of children under the age of 18 who were living in poverty. New Mexico ranked the highest at just over 29 per cent while Wyoming had the least at 12.1 per cent.

READ MORE: Mother fighting for five-year-old transgender daughter’s right to use girls’ bathroom at school

Upon investigation of the child’s home, it was discovered by police the boy had four other brothers, aged 11 to 17, who were all living in squalor.

“Cockroaches, urine – cat urine, human urine,” told Police Chief Russ Whitman to WLWT.

Whitman went on to say the actions of Dunham showed exactly what officers are all about: helping those who need it.

“[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?” Whitman said to WLWT.

“Hopefully, these officers’ actions change these kids’ lives and maybe change the lives of the parents to become better parents.”

As for Dunham, he too agreed he was just doing his job and that he even went back to visit the seven-year-old.

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“[We] would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like [we’ve] done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact.”

The five children are now staying with family members and the parents are prohibited from talking to them.

Tammy and Michael Bethel have been charged with 10 counts of child endangerment.

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