Education is the long-term solution that will really make an impact on animal abuse, and fortunately, it doesn't take a Ph.D. to be educated about what you should be doing as a pet owner, and what you can do as a parent.

Keep your pets indoor or safely confined within a secure, fenced in area

This is possibly the most important advice you can follow to ensure the safety of your pet. When pets are allowed to roam outside, they are at risk of falling victim to traffic, theft and attacks by other animals or people. Reluctant pet owners sometimes justify the fact that their dog or cat is allowed to remain outdoors by claiming that they live in low-traffic areas, or areas without a large population of predatory wildlife - however the reality is that if they are outside in an unconfined area, they are at risk.

Every year, thousands of animals are shot or poisoned in their own neighborhoods, often by a neighbor who was unhappy about the animal being on their property. To compound the heartache of having a beloved pet injured or killed, in many of these situations the shooter is never prosecuted because the animal was trespassing on their land - in fact, in cases where the animal is a dog, the pet owner often receives a summons for their dog being off-leash.

In addition to falling prey to a disgruntled neighbor, your pet faces the possibility of being stolen when they are not within the confines of your home. Contrary to popular belief, purebred animals are not the only victims of pet theft. Mixed breed animals are often stolen and sold to research laboratories or used as "bait" by people who are training dogs to fight.

When your pets are safe at home with you, you prevent these sorts of tragedies from occurring. If you remain unconvinced, take a look at some of the things that happen to animals when they are permitted to run loose in the neighborhood.

Make sure your pet has an ID tag or is microchipped

If you have an indoor cat or dog, you may be thinking, "Oh, my pet never goes outside". The fact is, pets sometimes escape, so even your indoor pets need ID tags. These are easily obtained online, and many pet stores have machines where you can make them on the spot for about $6. There are even some places that offer them for free, such as the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society.

While microchipping is an excellent idea, we strongly recommend ID tags in addition to the microchip. If a neighbor finds your pet, they likely do not have a microchip reader, and they will be unable to contact you directly. Additionally, an animal roaming the neighborhood without ID tags may be assumed to be a stray, making it a more appealing target for malicious humans who are looking for easy prey.

Without identification, it is nearly impossible to reunite people with their pets in the event that they get lost - and if your pet winds up at the pound, that ID tag could save its life.

Make educated decisions about who has contact with your pets

If you are looking for a new vet, groomer, pet-sitter or kennel - be sure to check them out before leaving your animal in their care. Ask for references - and check them. Be sure to check their name in the Pet-Abuse.Com database to be sure they do not have prior charges of animal cruelty.