Just this past weekend, my family and I started hearing the cries of coyotes again around our home. We live in Skaneateles just outside of the village. Having a toy-breed dog, this makes me extremely nervous. My 7 lb Chihuahua mix thinks of himself as a large dog; this is cause for concern.

As humorous as the thought of this fictional character chasing around your pet with anvils and cases of TNT is, real coyotes are a serious threat to your pets. Coyotes typically hunt small mammals such as mice, voles, and rabbits. If given the opportunity, they will also make a meal of a cat, tame or feral. Dogs, especially smaller breeds, are also at risk, although attacks on them are more rare. The best way to protect your pets is to let them outside only when you are with them—especially at night—and to keep pet food and water inside. Attacks on large breed dogs are more rare, but if a coyote feels threatened, it is not unheard of.

I know it’s easier to let your dog out for a quick minute or two by themselves, especially when it’s raining or you’re preoccupied, but please keep in mind that the safety of your pet is the most important.

coyote