As Hurricane Dorian nears landfall protect your pets with these safety tips

With powerful Hurricane Dorian on track to make landfall on Florida’s east coast by Monday morning, residents in its path can take specific steps to keep themselves and their animals out of harm’s way, according to animal welfare nonprofit American Humane.

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Hurricane Dorian passed over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as a Category 1 storm on Thursday but could strengthen to a potentially devastating Category 3 or 4 storm as it moves along the Atlantic Ocean’s warm waters. Category 4 storms possess powerful winds in excess of 130 mph, capable of doing significant damage to homes, trees and power lines.

To prepare for the storm, American Humane suggests that families place microchips or tags on their pets, bring them inside the house and tie down any loose object capable of flying through the air and injuring someone. Other tips include prepping a disaster preparedness kit complete with first aid supplies, food, water and necessary medication and developing an evacuation plan if necessary.

"Hurricanes are among the deadliest of storms," says Dr. Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., President and CEO of American Humane. "Fortunately, American Humane Rescue has worked in disaster relief for more than 100 years and has amassed a lot of practical knowledge on how families can prepare and, if there is no way to avoid the storms, weather them as well as possible and keep loved ones safe afterwards."

Families unable to safely evacuate should hunker down in a safe room away from breakable windows, keep their emergency kits close at hand and keep track of their pets’ whereabouts. If animals are crated, they should be kept near the family so that they won’t be trapped by rising waters.

Once the storm has passed, pet owners should examine their property for any potential dangers, including downed power lines, before letting their animals roam. Animals are often in a stressed state after changes to their environment, so owners should attempt to comfort them.

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President Trump canceled a planned trip to Poland this weekend in order to oversee preparations for the hurricane. Vice President Pence will make the trip in his place.

“Our highest priority is the safety and security of the people in the path of the hurricane,” Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.