The grisly attack by a fox on a flock of domesticated chickens in Essex last week — combined with a coyote's apparent attacks on a dog and some cats in Rockport a few weeks earlier — should serve as a reminder to all pet owners and more across Cape Ann these days.

We'd like to think that, by this time, most people would recognize that leaving pets outside and unprotected clearly puts them at risk of animals such as coyotes or foxes that are becoming more visible — both in more rural areas and, yes, within the city. At least one coyote was seen prowling Good Harbor Beach at sunrise last month.

But Essex Animal Control Officer Rob Steach is right to remind residents to either keep their pets inside, or at least secured in a pen and out of harm's way should a fox or coyote come calling. And his warnings should get animal owners' attention far beyond the Essex town lines.

Some animal owners may believe that letting a pet or other domestic animal roam free is doing the critter a favor; in fact, it can be putting a pet in danger.

Please remember to secure your pets. There really are predators out there, and too many local residents lately seem to be finding that out the hard way.

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