A 22-year-old Georgia woman was cited for leaving her dog in a hot car long enough for a concerned citizen to stage a daring rescue at a local shopping center. Oh yeah, and the good samaritan that saved the dog is being charged with criminal trespassing for his good deed.
Michael Hammons of Athens was walking through the parking lot of a local shopping center when he was alerted to a dog in a hot car by other shoppers who had called the police. Approaching the vehicle, he saw the little Pomeranian mix was in distress and began trying to free the dog, resorting to using a piece of his wife’s wheelchair to break a window.
This is not the face of a dog who’s happy to be along for the ride
“I knew there’d be consequences, but it didn’t matter,” Hammons told local reporters after the incident. “Glass, they make new glass every day, but they could never replace that dog.”
Witnesses then saw the kind man take the dog over to a shaded area and give it water. In any other circumstance, he’d be lauded as a hero … except in this one where the dog’s owner was more concerned about her car than her dog’s safety and adamantly demanded that Hammons be arrested and charged for his actions after insisting she’d only been in the store for five minutes.
“It wasn’t just five minutes like the lady stated, it was a lot longer,” Hammons said. “I personally felt the heat in the car; I saw the dog panting. This dog was in distress.”
Let’s do this math, shall we? Math is always fun. You’ve got a group of people congregated around your vehicle because they’ve noticed your dog, who should be at home on your sofa taking a nap and doing that involuntary leg kick thing that sleeping dogs do, but is instead they are trapped in your vehicle for no reason while you shop. They probably hemmed and hawed for a few minutes about what to do when one of them whipped out a cell phone and called the police.
That probably accounts for a solid five minutes right there. Then, they draw the attention of Mr. Hammons – a Desert Storm veteran and all around awesome sounding guy – who sees a panting, distressed dog and he decides to take immediate action by taking the leg off of his wife’s wheel chair and busting through a window to get to the dog.
That’s just resourceful is what that is.
That’s at least another five minutes. Not to mention the fact that no one knows how long the dog was in the car before all of the hullabaloo even started. The weather that day was hovering in the mid-80s in Athens, Georgia and in just 20 minutes, the interior of a car will reach 109 degrees with an external temp of 80 degrees. If a dog’s temperature rises to 106 degrees instead of their normal range of 101-102, they can suffer brain damage and death. With all of this considered, our question is to the car owner. Actually, we have several.
Why did you have to bring your dog in the first place? If you didn’t have an errand or activity to run that involved your dog, is there a reason that you felt that they should grace your front seat? Is your house haunted? Do the spirits taunt your precious pooch and you felt they’d be safer boiling in your Mustang?
Is this what’s going on?
Another quick question, are you so above the concept of personal accountability for your actions that you’d insist the man who saved your dog should be charged for doing it? Considering that he was saving your dog from you, we guess that answer is yes.
When local reporters asked police if they would have charged Hammons without the insistence of the car owner, Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems said no. “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,” he went on to say, “We didn’t want to charge him, 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.”
They also cited the dog’s owner (we’d call her a pet parent or a guardian, but when you treat your pet like a piece of property the term owner seems more applicable) for leaving the dog in the car, though it’s unclear what the ticket was specifically written for and, thusly, what the penalty is. According the Georgia’s DMV, there is no law on the books whatsoever making it illegal to leave an unattended pet inside of a locked vehicle.
Criminal Trespassing, however, carries a possible one-year prison sentence and up to $1,000 in fines. Seems like a legit situation right here. Nearly kill a dog – get a nebulous ticket for some related-ish offense. Break a window in the interest of saving a life – get a mug shot.
Seriously. A mug shot.
The obvious take away from this story, aside from the fact that more than just a paltry 16 states need laws on the books protecting pets from this situation, is that there is never a time when it’s okay to leave your pet in a car. Even if you feel that the temperature outside is comfortable, even if you crack a window, even if you think you’ll be gone for just a couple of minutes. It is never … never … never alright. Just, never.
Michael Hammons should be applauded for his actions to step in and save a life, placing his concern for the living, breathing animal in that car above the car itself. Too bad the living, breathing animal can’t go home with him.
All image source: 11 Alive