How you can plan to protect your pets before Hurricane Michael

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<pHurricane Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon directly hitting Florida's Panhandle, gaining strength at what is now a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds.

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(MORE: Hurricane Michael live updates: ‘Monstrous’ storm barrels toward Florida as Category 4 with 145 mph winds)<p

<pFurthermore, the National Weather Service warned early Wednesday that the storm was "extremely dangerous," with "life-threatening storm surge." The current hurricane path has Michael hitting Georgia next, but quickly expected to lose steam and possibly fall to a Category 1 by that time.

<pAnd while thousands of residents in Florida have been and continue to prepare to evacuate or brace for the storm, many others are wondering what to do with their beloved animals.

<p"GMA" spoke to Sára Varsa, vice president of the Animal Rescue Team at the Humane Society of the United States, about what pet owners can do to help keep their furry buddies safe during emergency situations like this.

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WARNING: FL, AL, GA, SC, & NC RESIDENTS, #HurricaneMichael is headed your way. Please make sure you and your pets are prepared and have a plan in place to ensure both your and their safety?? ? ? ? Not in the path of the #hurricane? It’s still a good time to make sure you’ve got an emergency plan so that you and your pets are prepared when disaster strikes! Check out our #disasterpreparedness tips by visiting the link in our bio.

A post shared by The Humane Society of the US (@humanesociety) on Oct 8, 2018 at 2:13pm PDT

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<pIf it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet.

<pThat's the main takeaway here, Varsa said. So, as you plan and prepare, always keep that in mind, whatever you might need as you are displaced or as you hunker down during the storm

If you are in the path of #HurricaneMichael, please make sure you and your pets are prepared: https://t.co/zUIjFzTYkX ?? pic.twitter.com/zHv5qahTqM

— The Humane Society of the United States (@HumaneSociety) October 8, 2018

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<pAll pet owners should make sure their animal has some sort of identification like a collar with ID tags.

<pIf you have time now or even for other impending storms, getting your animal microchipped is also a good idea.

<pWith smartphones, it's great to have a photo of your animal and even better if you are in that photo as proof of ownership, Varsa said.

<pPut together a pet supplies kit, as you would for yourself or your children.

<pAnd this kit should be able to care for your animal for a minimum of five to seven days, she says.

<pThis should include things like medications, leashes, carriers, food, potable water, and water bowls, toys, and beds, veterinarian contact information, litter, small carriers for dogs and more.

<pAlso, if you expect to lose electricity, cleaning your animal is important, so disinfectant clothes and wipes are also good to have, at least a week's supply worth for your animal.

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#FLORIDA: Tropical Storm Michael is headed your way. ??

<pDo you have a disaster plan for you & your pets? https://t.co/zUIjFzTYkX https://t.co/255zfTA5Io

— The Humane Society of the United States (@HumaneSociety) October 8, 2018

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<pThe safest place for your animal is with you.

<pYou don't want your animal loose during or after the storm. (We'll talk about larger animals like horses later here.)

<pIf you do not evacuate, make sure to bring your pets inside with you and keep them on a leash or in a carrier at all times.

<pTethering an animal outside is literally a death sentence, so never do this, whether you stay at your home or evacuate, Varsa said.

<pFor cats, make sure small spaces in the home are covered, so they don't go run and hide during the storm, where you can't reach them.

<pAfter the storm, don’t let your animal roam loose, so they don’t get lost or injured.

<pThere might be debris on the floor such as nails, and you don't want them stepping on that.

<pAlso, be patient with your pets after a disaster and expect them to be disoriented if there is damage to your home or the yard.

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A post shared by The Humane Society of the US (@humanesociety) on Aug 2, 2018 at 10:46am PDT

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<pCheck the yard and make sure again to keep them close, so they don't run off.

<pLarger animals need to have a plan, too.

<pThis includes horses, pigs, and other livestock.

<pIf you can evacuate with them or bring them to a safer farm, you should absolutely do so. Try to get them to higher ground if flooding is expected.

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A post shared by The Humane Society of the US (@humanesociety) on Jun 13, 2018 at 11:01am PDT

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<pWhen putting together a kit of food and water for them, buy gallons. Remember, this is crucial for their survival.

<pAs for tagging your animals, be gentle, but you can get creative like painting your name and number on the side of a horse with paint that's not toxic and chemical-free.

<pIf you can't evacuate your large animal, in this case, do not lock them up in a confined space. Let them roam somewhere that's considered somewhat free so if there's major destruction and flooding and you can't get to them, they can hopefully escape to shelter.