Hammons broke the car window after being alerted to the presence of a dog in a car by other concerned shoppers who’d already called police. With the temperature outside hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Hammons was concerned that the dog would be overcome with heat before authorities could arrive, and broke into the car himself to free the distressed animal.
When police arrived they were forced to charge Hammons with criminal trespassing as the current law in Georgia protects those who would damage property in order to rescue a child, but not an animal. Hammons was charged at the insistence of the vehicle’s owner, despite the fact that her dog was in imminent danger. The car’s owner was ticketed.
This is an example of a headline that should never have happened.
Public outcry against the decision to arrest and charge Hammons in the first place was swift, with people openly calling for a change in the law to extend the protections in place for trapped people to trapped animals and a local Ford dealer in the area even offered to replace the car owner’s window for free in order to smooth things over.
In the wake of the story, Ken Mauldin, the district attorney for Superior Court of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, chose not to pursue the charges against Michael Hammons for his quick and just actions in saving the pooch. While there was no public comment made by the car owner, Mauldin said that she agreed with his decision to drop the charges.
We don’t know her, but why are we picturing her response to that conversation like this?
While things worked out well this time around, this case must stand as a warning that if protections are not put explicitly into place for animals trapped in cars (or subjected to numerous other means of endangerment in local jurisdictions), we’re doomed to see this kind of thing again and again. Worse still, people may be less likely to step in once they see that they could be penalized for doing so.
Never leave a pet in a car!
It’s also imperative to spread the word that leaving an animal in a parked car, no matter how nice it might feel outside, is endangerment. A vehicle’s interior can reach 99 degrees Fahrenheit in only 10 minutes on a mild, 80 degree Fahrenheit day. After 20 minutes, it can reach 109. If you’re going somewhere that your dog can’t, then it’s best to save Fido’s outing for another time. He’ll be happier at home, we assure you.
Hooray for Michael Hammons and Good Samaritans like him everywhere. Now, let’s start protecting them and animals so that everyone is safer.
Lead Image Credit: Facebook