PETA to award arrested vet for saving dog in car

ATHENS, Ga. -- An army veteran who broke a car window to save an animal – and is now facing charges – will soon be receiving an award as well.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced Wednesday that the organization will be awarding Michael Hammons the Compassionate Action Award for his actions.

After finding a small dog locked inside a rapidly heating car at an Athens area shopping center, Michael Hammons made an attempt to save it.

He broke the car's window to free the dog.

But the impromptu heroism came at a price. Hammons was arrested for criminal trespass at the insistence of the dog's owner who came out to find the car's window shattered.

PETA officials said that the temperatures inside a parked car can jump quickly to between 100 and 120 degrees – even on a 78 degree day. Hammons feels he, in no uncertain terms, saved the dog's life.

"I've got PTSD, and I've seen enough death and destruction," Hammons said. "And I didn't want anything else to happen if I could prevent it."

Still, the charge was a steep consequence for the veteran.

The owner was cited, as well, for leaving the dog in the hot car. But without surveillance video, deputies say it is hard to tell how long the dog was actually left in the car.

Witnesses and Hammonds believe it was far longer than the five minutes the owner claimed.

Georgia state law does allow an individual to break a window to save a child in a hot or cold car, but not a pet. That is something that animal advocates say they are working to change.

Hammonds will have an arrest on his record. But now, at least, it will be accompanied by a commendation for the very same incident.

La'Tasha Givens contributed to this report.

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