An Army veteran who was arrested after smashing a car window to remove a dog from the hot vehicle will not be prosecuted for his actions.
Michael Hammons of Athens, Georgia, was previously charged with criminal trespassing, but District Attorney Ken Mauldin told The Augusta Chronicle earlier this week that his office was dropping the charges. Mauldin added that the car’s owner, 22-year-old Elantra Cunningham, agreed with the decision.
Hammons had been arrested on May 9, after he used a leg from his wife’s wheelchair to break a window of a Ford Mustang parked near a shopping center. It was a hot day, and Hammons said he feared for the safety of the Pomeranian mix that had been left inside the vehicle. He then gave the dog some water in a nearby shaded area, witnesses at the scene said.
Georgia law allows a person to break a car window to help a human, but not an animal. However, officials said they would not have arrested Hammons if Cunningham hadn’t insisted.
"We would not have made those charges on our own,” Oconee County Sheriff Chief Deputy Lee Weems told WTHR. Weems explained that the owner of the dog and car was "very insistent" on pressing charges against Hammons.
Cunningham, who was cited with leaving a dog in a hot car, told officers she only left her pet alone for five minutes. However, a woman who witnessed the incident told WXIA-TV that the dog was alone for “a lot longer” and was panting and “in distress.”
Hammons said at the time that he figured he’d get in trouble for smashing the window, but that didn’t stop him.
“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.”
The veteran told WXIA that he’s “seen enough death and destruction” and “didn’t want anything else to happen if I could prevent it.”
Veterinary experts warn that even a few minutes in a hot car can be dangerous for a pet. This chart from the American Veterinary Medical Association shows just how quickly temperatures inside a vehicle can rise.