Man Arrested for Saving Dog in Hot Car

This really makes me angry. I heard about this incident a few days ago on the news and in digging deeper found the following article from Gawker:

“This Saturday, an Army veteran in Athens, Georgia smashed the window of a hot car to free a dog in distress and was subsequently arrested for criminal trespassing, The NY Daily News reports.

According to police, the animal’s owner was furious [that] Desert Storm veteran Michael Hammons had broken the window of her Mustang and demanded he be charged.

Georgia Army Veteran breaks car window to save dog

“We didn’t want to charge him,” Chief Deputy Lee Weems told WAGA-TV, “but he told us he broke the windows and when you have a victim there saying she wants him charged, we had no other choice.”

Hammons was then arrested and the dog’s owner was issued a citation by animal control.

According to The Associated Press, Georgia state law allows bystanders to break windows to rescue children in distress but not pets. Nevertheless, Hammons says he would do it all again.

“I knew there’d be consequences, but it didn’t matter,” he told WAGA-TV. “Glass, they make new glass every day, but they could never replace that dog.” “

* * * * * * *

Here is yet another instance in which we can see the glaring problems in current laws with regard to animals. It’s perfectly legal to break in the windows of a hot car to rescue a child but not so for an animal. What?? The laws on the books regarding animals are so in need of major overhauls.

I’m glad the woman in this incident at least got a citation. Maybe –and hopefully—she’ll never leave her dog in the car again during hot days. I was peripherally involved in a dog-in-a-hot-car situation last year. I was walking to my car in a store parking lot and noticed an Animal Control vehicle parked right behind a car, blocking it into its parking space, while the Animal Control officer was walking around the vehicle. Then I noticed a small dog in the car. A few minutes later the owner of the car came out and he unlocked his car and handed the dog over to the Animal Control officer, who proceeded to examine the dog’s condition. Thankfully the dog seemed to be okay. I couldn’t tell whether or not the man was given a citation but they did have a long conversation. Then animal control pulled off. I backed out of my parking space and yelled over to the man, “Do you need some water for your dog? I have a bottle of water here.” He said no. And then, very politely I added, “Please don’t do that again. It gets scorching hot in the cars.” He came back with “Mind your own fucking business.”

THAT pissed me off. I said “It IS my business. I’m an advocate for animals.”

He screamed, “So am I!”

I said “Well, you’re obviously not very good at it!” I probably added “Asshole” at the end of that comment, knowing me.

It just blows my mind the number of people who continue to leave dogs in hot cars. Are these people not aware of the consequences? Do they not understand just how hot it can get in a closed car, even with the windows cracked? Certainly there are broad and far-reaching public awareness campaigns that warn people about the dangers so where have these people been, living under rocks? I just don’t get it.

Anyway, what do you think of the news article and the man getting arrested for doing the right thing? I think he did the right thing. The dog’s owner should be grateful that someone cared enough to prevent what could’ve ended in a tragedy. Do you think she learned her lesson? Do you think in hindsight she regrets having the man arrested? I wish there could be follow-up to this story because I sure would like these questions answered. Let me know how you feel about all this…

CASE UPDATE: After much public outcry, the charges have been dropped against the man and a Ford dealership has offered to replace the busted window for the owner at no charge. Happy ending for all involved. Thanks to John Holton at The Sound of One Hand Typing for giving me the heads up. You can read more about the case here.

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8 thoughts on “Man Arrested for Saving Dog in Hot Car

  1. I found too much lacking in this story to really get angry about it. My brother travels with both of his dogs in the car. He says that when he stops at a roadside park he is always afraid to go to the bathroom because he doesn’t want some ‘do-gooder’ smashing his windows. He always walks the dogs first, gets them some water, then puts them in the car with the windows cracked a bit before he heads to the bathroom. We don’t know how long this dog was in the car. Or even if it was in danger. And what did the fact that he as a VET even have to do with the story?? I thought they were using it to garner sympathy for the dude. I would have been pissed to if he had broken my car window. I would want to know how long he waited to see if the owner was returning before he smashed the car windows. And what are people who are traveling alone supposed to do. I told my brother to put his dogs in the trunk!! Of course he wouldn’t do that and I was just being funny. But, really what is the answer??? Or if he went into a store to get food for him and the dogs. Most stores don’t allow dogs inside. Also it shows the car was parked in the shade and the temp that day was only low 80’s. I think the missing fact here is HOW long was the dog in there! Sorry I ranted on for a bit

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    • Very valid points indeed Paula. I thought them playing the Army veteran card a little odd too but it’s the media and they have to draw attention. I still would like to see improved laws where people weren’t punished for doing the right thing (like when rescuing a dog from an obvious abusive/neglect situation resulting in criminal penalties for the rescuer and nothing done to the person doing the abuse).
      I also think it is just plain wrong to leave a dog in a hot car, even if just for a few minutes. In a matter of minutes the temperatures soar in the vehicle and the dog can go into a very dangerous stress-related heat stroke. I live in Texas and occasionally have my dogs with me. Sometimes I just take them for rides. 🙂
      If I have to stop somewhere, I either take them into the store with me (If I’m not sure, I usually call ahead and ask for a manager to see if it’s okay to bring my dog in, explaining that I can’t leave them in the car because it’s too hot and I’ve always been met with “Sure, bring them in.”). If I have to stop someplace where dogs aren’t allowed, I simply take them home and drop them off. If I had to stop at a rest stop, they’d be leashed and with me when I go in to use the bathroom. I’ve done that too.
      It just breaks my heart when I hear of dogs dying in hot cars when their owners were only supposed to be gone “for a few minutes.” It’s just not worth the risk, in my opinion anyway.
      But again, you raise valid points. There is much to this story that we don’t know. It would be nice if there was a follow-up article and maybe our questions could be answered. I still don’t think the guy should’ve been arrested…

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  2. I think he should have called animal control and let them break the window. I don’t agree the dog should have been left in the car; but perhaps the woman had only made a very quick stop. The problem with sensational news articles is they never give the entire story. I don’t understand why people think they need to take their dogs with them everywhere they go anyway.

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    • That would’ve been my inclination. But then, how long would it take animal control to respond? That’s another factor: we don’t really know how long the dog was in the vehicle. I have a rule for myself: if it’s above 75 degrees, I don’t leave my dogs in the car even for a minute. Long enough for me to load them in the back and the jump in the front to turn it on. If it’s hot out, I start the truck and get the AC running before I even load them.
      I take my dogs with me if I’m going to be out running errands that don’t require me to get out of the truck…or if they do, it’s to a place where they’re allowed, like Petsmart or Lowes or Home Depot. My dogs like to go for rides and hang their heads out the windows so sometimes I just load them up to take them for rides.
      Thanks for your comment Delorah!

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  3. I live in the Atlanta Metro area, and I couldn’t believe it. Clearly the woman cares more about her car than her dog. She has a citation, but he has an arrest on his record for saving a dog. That isn’t right. I hope whatever judge gets the case throws it out and humiliates the woman. That is, if she isn’t shamed into dropping the charge. Had the dog died, she might have been arrested herself…

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    • I hope you’re right John. Since the incident hit so close to home for you, was there other news coverage out your way? Just curious as there are so many questions. Let’s just hope he gets the right kind of judge. That should not go on his permanent record.

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      • I understand that PETA gave him an award, or will. People are generally angry that he was arrested; I think dogs and veterans (the guy’s a veteran of Iraq, I think) rate a little higher in people’s minds than car windows.

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      • Yay for PETA! I’m glad he got recognized with some positive support. You’ll have to keep me posted if there are any developing news on the story, like what happens when he goes to court. I would imagine lots of people are following the case where you are. You’ve got the “inside scoop” 🙂 Thanks John!

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