ATHENS, Ga. —An Army veteran smashed a car window to free a dog inside a hot car, but he was still arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.
“I heard someone say there was a dog in distress in a hot car,” Michael Hammons told WXIA.
Diane Byard and a group of shoppers were waiting for police to arrive when Hammons exclaimed he couldn’t let the dog die and smashed the Ford Mustang’s window to free the small Pomeranian mix.
“I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction,” Hammons told WXIA. “And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”
Witnesses said when the owner came out of the store, she was furious and demanded deputies take action.
Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems said they would not have brought charges against Hammons on their own, adding that the owner of the Mustang was “very insistent that he be charged with criminal trespassing.”
The owner of the car said she was only in the store for five minutes. Hammons claims it was a lot more than five minutes.
“I personally felt the heat in the car; I saw the dog panting. This dog was in distress,” he said.
The owner of the Mustang was cited for leaving the dog in the car. Deputies said it was difficult to determine how long the dog was in the vehicle because there was no surveillance video.
Georgia state law allows individuals to break a window to save a child in a hot or cold car, but not a pet.
Oklahoma is in the process of passing a bill that would protect people like Hammons, who break into a hot a car in order to save a child in distress.