AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) Wildlife and animal rescue experts are offering tips to keep pets safe as the effects of Hurricane Ian begin to hit the CSRA.

“Just make sure you have plans no matter how many animals you have,” said Tina Scheuerman, the director of All About the Animals Rescue Group in Appling, GA.

The non-profit sees an increase of rescue animals before severe weather hits, especially along the coast, she said.

“That’s how I got started in rescue,” Scheuerman said. “From a hurricane.”

If evacuation is necessary, she stresses that pets need to go as well because most local animal shelters are already at max capacity.

“Don’t weather it out if you don’t have to,” Scheuerman said. “Never leave any animals behind, they deserve to live along with the family members because they are family.”

In the event that evacuating an animal isn’t possible, she said owners should leave pets on the highest floor of their house with plenty of food and water, as well as a note with their contact information.

Possible flooding may drive wild animals, including alligators and snakes, out of their natural habitats and into yards, which is another reason why it’s important to bring pets inside, said I.B. Parnell, a wildlife biologist at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“Generally speaking,” Parnell said. “With a short team weather event like this, if you just leave them alone they’re going to keep doing their thing and they won’t bother you.”

In the event of an wildlife emergency, the DNR has an after-hours emergency hotline, 1-800-241-4113. AAARG is also in need of donations and can be reached at (706) 831-2543 for any inquiries.