Criminal charges dropped against vet who smashed window to save dog

Michael Hammons, pictured here, used the footrest of his wife's wheelchair to break into a car window to save a dog inside what he believed was a hot car on May 9, 2015 in the parking lot of an Athens, Ga., shopping center. (Photo from WSB via ABC News)

Authorities dropped charges against a veteran after he broke a window to free a dog from a hot car, according to a report from USA Today.

46-year-old Michael Hammons, who fought in Iraq during the first Iraq war, didn’t hesitate to take action on May 9 when he saw a dog inside a rapidly-heating Mustang at a shopping center in Athens, Georgia. He smashed the window of the car with a piece of his wife’s wheelchair to free the dog.

A group of shoppers had been worried about the Yorkie mix before Hammons’ stepped in and called police. The owner, whose name was not released, said she had been gone 5 minutes.

The small dog that Hammons said he wanted to save is pictured here. (Photo from WSB via ABC News)
The small dog that Hammons said he wanted to save is pictured here. (Photo from WSB via ABC News)

“I knew the dog was in distress,” Diane McGuire-Byard of Commerce, Ga., told the Athens Banner-Herald.

After the incident, the dog’s owner insisted that Hammons be arrested for criminal trespassing, sparking a debate online the need for laws protecting animals.

Tomorrow, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it will award Hammons with its Compassionate Action Award. PETA officials said temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to 100 to 120 degrees — even on a mild, 78-degree day like Saturday.

(Photo from PETA.org)
(Photo from PETA.org)

Current law in Georgia allows someone to break a window to save a person — but not an animal.

“The laws need to be changed to protect the animals, not necessarily the people,” said Mark Martin, a pet store owner who rallied around Hammons’ cause. “We are the voices for the animals; they can’t speak for themselves.”

A Ford dealer in the area had offered to fix the smashed window for free.

Ken Mauldin, district attorney for the Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, said the car’s owner agreed with his decision to drop the charges.

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