It’s a mother’s and a pet owner’s nightmare: locking your child or pet inside your vehicle. Some people wonder how it happens; but, in reality, there are a number of things that can cause this awful scenario. If it happens to you, then don’t panic. Here are a few tips on how to handle the situation without going mad.

First of all, you may be wondering how a pet can get locked inside the car? There are a number of crazy ways it can happen; surprisingly, some ways have nothing to do with absentmindedness. Maybe you started up the car and realized you forgot something inside a friend’s house. You jumped out of the car, closed the door (because it was too hot outside to leave it open), and ran into the home. While you were retrieving the forgotten item, your pooch excitedly jumped toward the window and accidentally landed on the lock button. It sounds random, but it actually happens more than you might think.

Don’t panic. Panicking is one of the worst things you can do in this situation. When you let fear take over, you lose your ability to calmly analyze what is going on around you. The quicker you are at thinking on your feet, the quicker you’ll get your pet out of your car. Losing control only prolongs the process. Your pet probably won’t understand what is going on; but, if you start acting crazy, then your pet may become over anxious. The last thing you need is a fearful pet. She needs to remain calm, so as not to overexert herself.

Evaluate the situation. Is it an emergency? If your car is turned off, parked in the sun and it is 80 degrees outside, then yes it is an emergency. A car parked in direct sunlight heats up fast, posing the threats of suffocation, dehydration, and heat stroke for your pet. If your car is parked in the shade with the windows cracked and it is a cool 70 degrees outside, then your situation needs attention, but it is not an emergency.

Do ask for help. Call a friend or family member for ideas. Sometimes, a person removed from the situation can recall helpful information more quickly than you could. For instance, a family member may keep a spare key in his car, while a friend may know how to unlock a door. If you are in a public place and there are people around, then ask for any suggestions. If it is an emergency, then do not spend tons of time asking people to help.

Call a locksmith. If the situation is not yet an emergency, then contact a local locksmith. Tell them the situation, and let them know that there is an animal locked inside the vehicle. Ask for an approximate arrival time, so you know whether or not you should call for faster help. If the locksmith can get to you in an adequate amount of time, then trust the estimate and wait it out.

Call the police. Many people do not believe in calling the cops for pet problems, because it is taking the cops’ energy away from more important things. However, sometimes it is necessary for you to call the police. If it is an emergency or if help cannot arrive in an acceptable time period, then you will need someone who can unlock the vehicle. Don’t put all your trust in the police, however, because many areas have policies against officers opening a locked car.

Last resort: break a window. The last thing you want to do is haul off and break a window. The glass shards may injure your pet, not to mention what it will cost to replace the window. But, as an owner, you have to do what you have to do. If the locksmith is not close and the police are unable to help, then breaking a window may be necessary. Be careful which window you break (the back ones are usually the most expensive to replace). If possible, have someone distract your pet while you break the glass on the opposite side of the vehicle. Your pet will be startled, but at least she will get rescued.

Locking a pet in a vehicle is possible, so don’t rule it out. If you are ever faced with the situation, remember to remain calm. Panicking will only make matters worse. Ask for help, while you continuously monitor your pet’s behavior. If she seems to be having problems (whether from the heat, lack of water, etc.), then you may have to break a window.

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