- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

An Army veteran says he has no regrets after he was arrested in Georgia this week for smashing a stranger’s car window to give a trapped dog some fresh air.

Michael Hammons, who served in Desert Storm, said he jumped into action when he heard someone in an Athens shopping center say a dog was in distress, a local NBC affiliate reported.

Witnesses said a group of shoppers noticed the Pomeranian-mix in the hot Mustang without water and were waiting on police to arrive when Mr. Hammons grabbed his wife’s wheelchair leg and smashed the car window, the station reported.

“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,” the veteran said.

Witnesses said the dog’s owner was furious when she returned to her vehicle, and police said she insisted on pressing charges against Mr. Hammons.

“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 Oconee County Chief Deputy Lee Weems, a local Fox affiliate reported.

Georgia state law allows someone to break a window to save a child in distress but not a pet. Animal advocates say they are working to change the law.

The dog’s owner was cited for leaving the dog in the hot car, and Mr. Hammons was charged with criminal trespassing. The woman said she had only left the dog for five minutes, though witnesses said it was much longer.

The veteran said he has no regrets doing what he believed needed to be done to save the animal.

“I knew there’d be consequences, but it didn’t matter,” he said. “Glass, they make new glass every day, but they could never replace that dog.”

On Wednesday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) honored Mr. Hammons with their Compassionate Action Award.

“Every summer, PETA receives dozens of calls about dogs left in hot cars for whom help came too late to save their lives,” PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien said in a press release. “Rather than be arrested, this man should be applauded for deciding not to stand idly by, but for acting in the best interests of the victim.”

PETA said that on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature of a car can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes.

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