Police called on Illinois 8-year-old girl walking her dog alone

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Police called on Illinois 8-year-old girl walking her dog alone. Alicia Vitarelli reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on August 24, 2018.

An Illinois mother says someone called the police after she let her 8-year-old daughter walk the family dog by herself.

Corey Widen said a neighbor apparently saw young Dorothy outside walking Marshmallow and told police a 5-year-old was outside alone.

Police arrived and realized there was no emergency, but Widen says the neighbor didn't stop there.

She said the same neighbor also dialed the Department of Children and Family Services.

"It's traumatizing for the kids, always, and there's no way to shield them from it," she said. "I do think that changes need to be made, because the call never should've gotten this far as it was. The initial call was for an unattended 5-year-old, and once they knew I didn't even have a 5-year-old, it should've stopped there. I don't think it ever should've made it past the hotline that a little girl walking her dog needs to be investigated."

Family services quickly closed the case without any issues, issuing the following statement to ABC News:

"We did what the people of Illinois ask us to do. We investigated, we found no wrongdoing on the part of the mother, and we closed the case last week."
Widen says walking the dog is her daughter's only chore, and she will keep letting her do it.

"Every 8-year-old is different, every neighborhood is different, every parent is different, so you can't make an overall judgment like that," she said. "We live in a beautiful neighborhood, we're very fortunate...It's safe, it's clean, it's beautiful."

Widen also home-schools Dorothy and feels it's important for her to learn to do things on her own.

"This was something we did to start giving her more independence, because I didn't feel that she had enough," she said. "So I wanted to make that step of her being away from me a little bit more."

She hopes people learn from her experience.

"Don't judge a book by its cover," she said. "You don't know every situation. You don't know every child, and when you do things like this, you overwhelm an already overwhelmed system with nuisance calls like this. And kids and families who really need help don't get it."

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