And -- more tragically -- neighbors, police and foreclosure agents are finding increasing numbers of pets left to fend for themselves in abandoned homes.
"We're finding too many animals who have starved to death," said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Human Society of the United States.
While some people dump their pets on the street, others go so far as to lock the animal in a closet where their cries for help are harder to hear, she said.
It can take weeks for an animal to starve to death and desperate scratch and bite marks are usually found on doors and windows.
"They will eat anything -- furniture, or carpet or wallboard -- to try to ingest something," Shain said in a telephone interview.