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Majority of pet owners buy presents for their pals

Poll finds 52 percent put animals on gift lists

Santa may bring plush holiday-themed toys for pets, or possibly candy cane-shaped rawhide chews and clothes, according to a spokeswoman for the PetSmart. Santa may bring plush holiday-themed toys for pets, or possibly candy cane-shaped rawhide chews and clothes, according to a spokeswoman for the PetSmart. (File/ Associated Press)
By Sue Manning
Associated Press / November 25, 2009

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LOS ANGELES - Dogs across the country can expect some bone-shaped presents under the Christmas tree this year.

An Associated Press-Petside.com poll shows 52 percent of pet owners plan to buy their animals a holiday gift - up from 43 percent last year.

Gus and Molly, a pair of German shepherds, Rosie the bulldog, and Zoe the cat will get treats and playtoys, “the good sturdy stuff,’’ said owner Norm Authier, 50, of Long Beach.

“We have always done this. We don’t have any kids so we spoil our dogs,’’ Authier said.

The bounce in pet gifts is expected despite the fact that fully 93 percent of Americans say they’ll spend less overall or about the same as last year, according to a separate Associated Press-GfK poll.

The AP-Petside.com poll found that six in 10 of those who own only dogs planned on shopping for their pet for the holidays. Forty percent of those with only cats planned to pet shop.

Sawyer, a 9-year-old Labrador-border collie mix, will get something special because he was born on Christmas Day, said owner Pat Brown, 74, of Beloit, Wis.

He can also look forward to his two favorite homemade snacks - popcorn and ice cubes.

Plush holiday-themed toys are very popular with pet owners, as are candy cane-shaped rawhide chews, said Jessica Douglas, a spokeswoman for the PetSmart pet supply store chain based in Phoenix.

Popular clothes at this time of year include a Santa suit, a Mrs. Claus dress, and reindeer costumes.

A lot of boots are sold to dog owners in cold weather states. Bling-wise, collars and leads are popular.

“Some ID tags are decorated with sparkly embellishments and they can be personalized so it’s not just for looks,’’ she said.

According to the poll, 62 percent of female owners said they would probably buy their pet a gift, while just 40 percent of the men said they would.

Janet Rowlands, 53, in Tulsa, Okla., is planning a Christmas celebration for 29 people and pets, including her four dogs. Jack Russell and rat terrier Boodroe, 7, is the only one who steals gifts from under the tree.

“He sees it as part of the fun,’’ Rowlands said.

According to the poll, 59 percent of owners say pets are only a minor consideration when picking out holiday decorations, even though 14 percent reported that their pets have gotten into the decorations before.

There are no cranberries, popcorn, or gingerbread men on the tree at Erica Peterson’s home in Vass, N.C., because of Logan and the starfish, an ornament she and her husband got on their honeymoon.

On his first Christmas with the family, Logan, a male Labrador-chow, knocked the tree over and everything went flying so he could get to the starfish - apparently because it smelled fishy to him. All edible or scented ornaments were banned.

This year Logan will get a big butcher’s bone, while Peterson’s female Maltese named Bubbles, 13, will get rawhide sticks made like to look like candy canes. Both will be wrapped and put under the tree.