As Hurricane Irene strengthens and makes its way up the East Coast, to cities including New York City and Boston, pet owners have been urged to prepare for the worst.

In the event of an evacuation, pack an emergency supply kit with items including three to seven days' worth of canned or dry food, at least seven days' worth of bottled water, an extra collar or leash and photocopies of medical records. This Evac-Pack should also be supplied with liquid dish soap, garbage bags, toys and a blanket, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

If an evacuation is not necessary, the ASPCA recommends identifying safe rooms in the home, and making sure fresh water is available to the pets at all times.

On Thursday morning, North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue emphasized the severity of the impending storm, which is currently a Category 3 hurricane. Residents and visitors of Hyde County, N.C. have already been ordered to evacuate the area.

Prepare for the worst and pray for the best . . . the storm is a serious threat for North Carolina, Purdue said.

In Raleigh, N.C., the ASPCA has been giving free pet ID tags to pet owners in preparation for Hurricane Irene.

Every year thousands of animals enter Wake County animal shelters. Most are strays. We know from recent natural disasters in other states that pets are tremendously vulnerable, SPCA marketing and public relations director Mondy Lamb told the Apex Herald on Wednesday.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left more than 600,000 animals homeless or dead in New Orleans, as many residents were forced to leave their pets behind.

A pet evacuation bill was passed four years later, requiring that state and local officials consider pet owners, household pets and service animals when making evacuation plans, according to CBS News.

In addition to having an Evac-Pack, the ASPCA also recommends the following:

Have a photo of you and your pet together in case a proof of ownership is required in the event your pet is lost or you are unable go back to your home.

In the event of a power outage, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to guarantee water access (if the area is not flooded).

Contact the local animal shelter for additional assistance in the event of a medical emergency.

Keep a small spray bottle of water to keep birds hydrated.

For reptiles, pack a heating pad or hot water bottle.

Hamsters, gerbils, mice and other small animals should be supplied with salt lick, a small hidebox and a week's worth of bedding.