Quite a few years ago, when this reporter was away working for the U.S. Air Force, brother Jim found a very young possum in the back yard. Being a naturalist, he took it on himself to take care of the little critter. He called his possum "Frank." Knowing Frank was a wild creature, Jim provided for Frank's daily needs while allowing him to just be "Frank." No particular "domestication" for this little guy.
Frank was not so young as to require bottle feeding, but he was small enough to be brought into the house to the requisite cardboard box for a brief time. As all parents know, though, childhood is a brief if precious time, and Frank soon required his outdoors for the full 24 hours.
Knowing the hand that fed him (and knowing a good thing when he saw it,) Frank remained in our back yard and developed into a fine specimen of young possomhood. While the fence around our yard provided security from the neighborhood dogs, it was no match at all for the climbing skills of Frank. Nonetheless, Frank continued to "hang around," literally.
It seems that prehensile tail is good for something. Frank used it to attach himself to a tree branch when he had a chunk of food big enough to require the use of both hands. He could be seen, at times, literally "hanging" by his tail, though this was not something he did for long.
Frank eventually left our environs, moving on to a much better area for him at one of the lakes on the Town Creek system outside of Aiken. This was years before that area had become one of Aiken's expansion neighborhoods of choice, and enabled Frank to find his own Francine, or so we would like to think.
The "Frank" I saw last night, unless he was long-lived to a biblical extreme, was not the one Jim raised. He could have been the original "Frank's" great-great-...-grandpossum, though, and in my family, having had the "Frank" experience, all possums are now referred to as "Frank." Also, for those who have been waiting to pounce with a comment about possums and opossums, please know my Random House Unabridged supports both spellings even if a more scientifically inclined source would not. Walt Kelly would certainly have agreed with me on this spelling issue (check out "Pogo" if you don't know about Walt Kelly.)
The point is, my "Frank" was there last night, as he probably has been for many nights before. I suspect his fare is found on the back porches (and front porches, too) of my house and the houses of many of my neighbors. I know I often find the dry food my cat may have left in her bowl completely gone the next morning and the bowl of water which is alongside is often a bit dirty, probably from a rather dirty snout. Which is one good reason why my animals are never left out after dark.
Frank, along with his raccoon neighbors are frequent visitors to, if not outright inhabitants of our neighborhood. I even once saw a fox trotting down the road during that twilight period just before sunrise. I strongly suspect none of these animals are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, and, since they all are known to be susceptible to the disease, you certainly would not want your pets associating with any of them. While there are probably other reasons to keep your animals indoors at night, this alone is a good enough reason for everyone to adopt this practice.
Your animals will be safe, and your neighbors won't have to concern themselves with that barking dog that may be keeping them up in the middle of the night. Keep 'em inside--it's a win-win situation.