Let me make the ultimate conclusion of this post immediate and prominent:
The dog rescuer, Michael Hammons, is admirable and ethical in every way. Elantra Cunningham, the irresponsible and ungrateful woman who placed the dog in peril and had Hammons arrested for rescuing it is unethical and shockingly lacking in civilized values.
Let us all henceforth regard them and treat them appropriately according to their conduct in this matter.
Now the details.
Over the weekend, Desert Storm veteran Michael Hammons saw a small dog locked in a parked car, with its windows closed, on a sweltering day in Athens, Georgia. The dog, an Australian terrier mix, I think, was panting, and Harmon correctly concluded that it was minutes away from death. He smashed in the windows of the car with the footrest of his wife’s wheelchair.
22-year-old Elantra Cunningham, owner of both the dog and the car, insisted that a police officer arrest Hammons for trespass and destroying private property. “It was not an arrest made by the deputy’s own volition,” Chief Deputy Lee Weems explained. “The woman pressed charges for breaking out the window of the car, and the deputy did what he had to do.”
Animal control cited Elantra for leaving her dog in a hot vehicle. Hammons spent the night in jail.
1. Georgia apparently authorizes a citizen to break car windows to save a child, but not an imperiled dog. That needs to change.
2. The officers were obligated to arrest Hammons. The prosecutor is not obligated to charge him. I assume Hammons will not be charged, as I view this as a classic example of when prosecutorial discretion is essential, and obviously so.
3. If he is prosecuted, Hammons has an effective defense. He reasonably assumed that the law permitting a third party to break a car window to save a child’s life also applied to a cooking dog. This is mistake of law, an accepted defense under the Common Law. He could hardly be expected to check out the statute before acting.
4. As for the woman who has Hammons arrested for damaging her precious car to save her dog, yechhh, and that’s the nicest thing I can say about her. She is lacking in gratitude, fairness, kindness, compassion, citizenship, and the basic values that allow individuals to contribute positively to a community. She is irresponsible, and she is a materialistic fool who values car windows over life. This is signature significance. No decent, trustworthy individual would send a man to jail for saving her dog from a horrible death.
5. The community should shun her. If I were her employer, I would fire her, because I wouldn’t want my business to have the reputation that it considers people like her worthy of trust. If I were her husband, brother or father, I would tell her that she is wrong, that I am ashamed of her, and she has embarrassed the family. If she applied for a job, I would not hire her. If she applied for a loan, I would not grant it. If she was my lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, nanny or gardener, I would end our relationship. If she was my fiancee, I’d call off the wedding even if it was the next day. This is a dangerously unethical, mean, terrible human being. She probably knows that—someone this bad can’t possibly not realize it—-but the rest of us have an obligation to…
A. Make sure she knows…
B. Make sure she knows that we aren’t like her…
C. Make sure she knows that her conduct and values are neither acceptable nor tolerable…
D. Make sure everyone else knows that such conduct is neither acceptable nor tolerable…
This is how society becomes ethical. She is a bad apple. Bad apples must be pointed out, designated as such, and rejected. Usually they distinguish themselves by breaking laws, but not always. There is a lot of illegal behavior that doesn’t show the character rot that this woman’s conduct does.
As for Mr. Hammons, if there was ever a perfect object of a crowdfunding campaign, he is it.
And on behalf of civilized people, dog-lovers and Australian terriers, sir, thank you for your service.