A Georgia army veteran who was arrested earlier this week after saving a dog from a hot car is speaking out against his police arrest – and he has been steadily gaining support after his story went viral.
The army veteran, identified as Michael Hammons of Athens, said he has no regrets over busting the driver-side window of a Ford Mustang baking in the hot Georgia sun in an Athens shopping mall. Inside of the car – with the windows rolled up – was a panting Yorkshire terrier.
Yesterday, we brought you this story: Arrest over dog save? Army vet who busted dog out of hot car is arrested, jailed
Today, Hammons spoke to MyFoxAtlanta, stating that he knew there would be consequences for his actions, but that he also knew what had to be done. While concerned onlookers stood around and were waiting for police to arrive and open the vehicle, Hammons disconnected the footrest from his wife’s wheelchair and used it to smash through the window.
“I knew there’d be consequences, but it didn’t matter,” Hammons said. “Glass, they make new glass every day, but they could never replace that dog.”
The owner of the vehicle and the dog – who has yet to be identified – reportedly demanded that Hammons be placed under arrest. Ultimately, he was – charged with criminal trespassing. The veteran was briefly jailed and released on his own recognizance. But this dog rescuer now faces a fine of $1,000, and a maximum sentence of a year behind bars.
Hammons said the dog owner was irate that he had smashed her car. “She said you broke my window, and I said I did. She says why would you do that? I said to save your dog,” replied Hammons.
It appears that responding Oconee County police did not want to place Hammons under arrest, but according to Chief Deputy Lee Weems, incredulously, they had no choice.
“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,” said Chief Weems. “We would not have made those charges on our own. The deputies on scene say the owner of the car and of the dog was very insistent that he be charged with criminal trespassing.”
Hammons wife Saundra said her husband served in Desert Storm and battles Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She said his actions to save this dog come from – in part – a sense of guilt over not being able to save others while serving in Iraq.
“He has seen so much, and been through so much, his thing is he’s got to save him. Michael says [he] has to save lives because [he] couldn’t save everyone else over there,” Saundra said.
The owner of the dog was cited by animal control for failing to properly care for her animal. Witnesses said that the temperature outside at the time was 80 degrees, pushing the inside temps of the car over 100 degrees. While the owner told police she was only gone “for about five minutes,” those gathered in the parking lot said it was much longer.
“It wasn’t just five minutes like the lady stated, it was a lot longer,” said witness Diane Byard said. “I personally felt the heat in the car; I saw the dog panting. This dog was in distress. If it is 80 degrees outside, within 30 minutes, it will be 114 degrees inside a vehicle, even with the windows cracked.”
Said Hammons: “I’ve got PTSD, and I’ve seen enough death and destruction. And I didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”
Commenters on this story are squarely behind Hammons. Some have suggested that a crowdfunding page be set up to assist him to battle his potential legal fees.
A sampling on related articles:
I’ll pay his fine. Would he have been arrested if a child was in the car? The owner of the dog should be ashamed of herself. Thank you for your service Mr. Hammons – during Desert Storm and now. – Lucia Difavio
This guy is a hero. The judge should dismiss the case. I would do the same thing without hesitation. You NEVER leave an animal, or a child, locked in a vehicle alone. NEVER! – Daniel Hanover
The chick had the nerve to press charges. She shouldn’t have the dog. Animal control should take the dog away from her. – L.L.
Do you agree with these comments? Sound off below on this Georgia man and Army veteran, arrested for stepping up to save a dog from a hot car.