An Iraq War Veteran from Athens, Georgia saved a small dog from overheating in a hot vehicle but was facing criminal charges for his actions until the charges were dropped earlier this week.
It all began when Michael Hammons was in a parking lot when he heard someone say there was a “dog in distress in a hot car”. Without thinking, the Desert Storm vet immediately rushed to the dog’s aid, unaware that the police had already been called.
A group of shoppers who had noticed the dog in the car, were waiting on police when Hammons came over. The saw him take one of the legs off his wife’s wheelchair and smash the car’s window, freeing the dog. However, things took a nasty turn when the owner returned to her vehicle and police arrived.
The dog’s owner insisted Hammons be charged and police arrested him for criminal trespassing. The current law in Georgia allows for windows to be broken in the event of a child being trapped inside, but not for an animal.
Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems told 11Alive news reporter La’Tasha Givens that they would not have charged Hammons on their own if the dog’s owner had not prompted them. However, they did cite the dog’s owner for leaving her dog in the hot car.
The dog’s owner disputed that she had left her dog in the car for more than 5 minutes, something Hammons did not agree with. But deputies said it is hard to tell how long the dog was actually in the car without any surveillance video to look at.
The animal advocacy group PETA later remarked that temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees even on a mild, 78-degree day like it was on May 9, 2015, when the incident happened. PETA said it is awarding Hammons with its Compassionate Action Award.
As for why Hammons acted so quickly, he said it was because he did not want to see the dog die. “I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” he told 11Alive. “And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”
After Hammons arrest, many in the community stepped forward to support him. Hammons’ attorney reportedly took his case pro bono and a local Ford dealership offered to replace the dog owners’ window free of charge and a couple, who own a local pet store, offered to help pay for anything Hammons needs as result of his arrest.
A week after his arrest, the charges against Hammons were dropped. The district attorney said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.
Animal advocates in Georgia said that Hammons actions highlights a bigger issue. They would like to see the state’s laws change to allow an individual to break a car window in order to save pets.
I’m glad this situation was resolved and the charges against Hammons were dropped! If anything, this story is an important reminder to not leave your pets in the car during warm weather!
Please share this story with your friends and family who love animals!