People are scrambling to keep pets and wildlife safe during Hurricane Dorian

As Hurricane Dorian becomes a catastrophic Category 5 storm over the Bahamas and headed toward the southeastern United States, the rush is on to keep pets and other animals safe.

The National Hurricane Center bulletin Sunday morning has pegged sustained winds near 175 mph (280 km/h) with the eye of catastrophic storm now reaching the Abaco Islands.

Calling it “a life-threatening situation,” wind gusts could soared over 200 mph and with it a storm surge of 15 to 20 feed above normal tide levels with “destructive waves.”

That’s why the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach, Florida is now “hunkering down.”

“Today, 900 animals are in our care as we prepare for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall,” the animal shelter posted on Twitter heading into a scary long weekend. “Staff & volunteers will be staying at the shelter to provide essential care to our animals during this critical time of need.”

Other homeless animals are being moved out of harm’s way.

The animal rescue group, Paws N Pilots, said pilot Jeff Wall had some animals from a Florida shelter aboard his plane to get them safely to Tennessee.

Otherwise, the animals would face euthanasia due to the coming hurricane.

Officials and animal lovers are urging people not to leave their pets behind if they have to leave their homes.

FEMA reminds people in storm zones to plan for pets.

Local emergency officials also set out a plan for fur babies and other household critters.

The Best Friends Society also spells out disaster planning for pets.

That includes having the animal’s identification on its collar with multiple points of contact, microchipping and having current photos in case one is lost.

On top of that have a go-bag ready with food, medication, bowls, litter, treats and be ready with the right sized carrier.

And find pet-friendly places to hold up while the storm passes.

Natural disasters can be scary for pets — and their people.

“Be aware that your pets’ behavior during and after an emergency evacuation may be different from the normal daily behavior you know and expect,” writes Sherry Woodard, Best Friends animal behavior consultant. “Pets may panic as the danger nears and become lost before they are safely evacuated.”

People are also working to protect zoo animals and other wildlife.

“As we hurriedly prepare our homes and businesses for Hurricane Dorian, it’s easy to overlook the impact these storms can have on wildlife,” the Brevard Zoo notes. “But in the days leading up to and following Dorian’s landfall, there’s a good chance we’ll see an increase in sea turtle strandings.

You may want to help, but by putting them back in he water you may be hurting them.

It’s illegal to touch them. Instead, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.

Be careful out there.

And, help where you can.

Main photo Best Friends Society/Twitter

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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