Quiet Desperation

Animal adoption agencies seeing a doggone frenzy


Because of the pandemic, which of the following is way up nationwide?

Average per-person daily intake of calories from sugar?

Trips to the liquor store?

Pet adoption?

I don’t have the facts in front of me about calories and alcohol, just the assumption that both are true.

There are facts, however, that show pet adoption in the past year was not only way up but highly competitive.

Adoption agencies all over the country are experiencing something unique: They’re running out of pets; some have seen double the requests for dogs since the pandemic came along.

This is good news, but it comes with some bad news and an advisory (from me).

According to the Better Business Bureau, “The number of complaints about fraudulent and nonexistent breeders has never been higher.”

At times, humans are an industriously evil lot.

If there’s a market value in deception, mankind will find it.

Dogs, cats, birds, fish, and even ferrets are “going like hotcakes,” said one operator of an animal shelter in Maryland.


I don’t have room to go through all of the reasons why Harry enhances my life and makes it worth waking up every morning and chewing (as Emo Phillips said) through the leather straps.

Today, 35.7 million Americans live alone. When quarantined, that’s a lot of solitary souls trying to make the best of it — psychologically.

I can’t think of anything better than spending the day with Harry. I’d take him over Audrey Hepburn. And that would have been true before “social distancing.”

On Jan. 6, like everyone else, I watched the horrific events unfold in Washington, D.C., glued to the screen and mesmerized, revolted, saddened and disgusted.


Harry came to me with a leash in his mouth.

Three of my friends adopted cats last year, and they weren’t random acts: Each had owned cats in the past.

The advisory I mentioned is just this: Pets, especially dogs, require time, money, and commitment — and respect.

Harry’s annual wellness exam is coming up. He’s on a prescription diet. His teeth have to be cleaned.

Dog ownership isn’t what it once was.

The American Pet Products Association estimated we spent $99 billion on pet industry expenditures in 2020.

Some of that might include stupid hats and costumes, but the majority went to food, training, and medical care.

Although Hexe, my boyhood dachshund, was loved, she was treated very differently than I treat Harry. Dogs were, well, dogs back then. Now they are important members of the family.

In the absence of a family, Harry is my son. His well-being is my well-being.

Experts warn that “adoptions should not be spontaneous,” but there probably were a few of those.

Research beforehand helps. There are sites (adoptapet.com, for example) that will help you determine which (breed) dog is best for you.

As great as dachshunds are, they’re not for everyone. Some of you may remember Smitty. He was adopted, at the age of 5 from the great, no-kill MaxFund Shelter in Denver.

I was his third owner. It’s my understanding he may have nipped a child who was playing too aggressively with Smitty when he was a puppy.

Please: Do your homework.

Mark Twain said, “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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