Man Saves Dog From Sweltering Car, Police Arrest Him For Hurting Owner’s Ford Mustang

Today in the category of “boneheaded priorities,” we have a Georgia man currently facing criminal charges because he had to break a car window to save a dog’s life. In Georgia, you are legally allowed to break a window to save a child, but not an animal.

WXIA in Athens, Georgia, is reporting that the man, Michael Hammons, sprung into actions when a crowd had gathered around a silver Ford Mustang in a shopping mall parking lot. Seeing a panting dog sitting inside the car with all of its windows up, Hammons told the crowd, “We can’t let this dog die.” He grabbed his wife’s wheelchair leg and smashed the window, allowing the dog to jump out. It was an admittedly, pretty badass move, but then Hammon seems like a kind of badass guy.

Hammon told WXIA that he had served in Desert Storm and his experience there shaped the way he looks at life.

“I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” Hammons said. “And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”

dog-in-car

Witnesses say the Pomeranian mix was panting and in obvious distress. (via Alive11)

After the dog was safely out, the owner arrived back to her car furious… that her window was broken. She insisted that the police file charges against Hammons.

“If the owner was okay with that, and didn’t want any charges, would he have been arrested?” asked 11Alive’s La’Tasha Givens.

“No,” said Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems. “We would not have made those charges on our own. The deputies on scene say the owner of the dog and the car were very insistent that he be charged with criminal trespassing.”

She claimed that she had only been inside the store for “five minutes.” It’s an excuse that often gets pets (and children) killed. While “just five minutes” may not seem like a very long time, the car acts as a heat incubator and any creature stuck inside can die from heat stroke very quickly. The temperature that day in Athens, Georgia was 90 degrees – meaning inside the car the temperature would have been fast approaching 160 degrees.

Police justified charging Hammons and taking him to jail for two reasons.

First, they said that without surveillance video, they couldn’t prove the dog was inside the car. (They don’t, however, mention the fact that there was a gathering of witnesses who all saw the dog inside the car and there was even a 911 call placed to them from a concerned witness begging them to come save the dog.) Secondly, Georgia is one of many states that doesn’t have protections for animals in hot cars. You can break a window to save a kid, but saving a dog or cat will land you – like Hammons – in jail. And while breaking a window is a crime in Georgia, letting a pet bake to death is not.

As spring and summer bring with them much hotter days, pets will bear the brunt of the harm if owners keep insisting on keeping them in hot cars as they run errands. Even a quick hop into a store on a warm day could mean putting an animal at risk. Georgia animal rights groups say they are concentrating on getting laws passed that would protect pets, and the people who save them, from harm. Until then, more animals will likely be victims. It’s sad that the state has taken the approach of criminalizing their would-be rescuers.