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Pets a Popular Gift This Holiday Season

Whether buying pets for someone else or buying a present for one of their own pets, people were busy at pet stores over the holidays.
What child hasn't asked for a new puppy for the holidays?

In many cases, Santa answered with a new four-legged friend underneath the Christmas tree. But with the gift, comes lessons and responsibility.

Pets were a big hit this holiday gift giving season.

"Popular items were the puppies and the kittens," said Sam Hitchens, owner of ABBA Pets in St. Joseph.

All the kittens have been sold and just a few puppies remain.

"They're just like a newborn baby to a lot of folks," Hitchens said. "A lot of folks, they welcome them in to their family and they treat them like a newborn."

Hitchens says the gift of a pet can be a great teaching lesson for children.

"It's the love and security, especially for small kids, to show you how to handle them, giving them some responsibility, to be able to handle a pet correctly," he said.

At Critter's Pet Shop, owner Mike Heye hopes anyone who gave a pet as a present thought through their decision carefully.

"Learn everything you need to know how to take care of that pet," Heye said. "Consult with pet professionals, a veteranarian, or veterinary staff that's knowledgeable about the animal."

While lots of pets were given away as gifts over the holidays, many animals were on the receiving end of presents themselves.

"There are a lot of folks like us, who, their pets are like their children," Heye said. "That's an important part of the holiday season. It is for them to include the household pets in the holidays. At our house, our animals get and give gifts."

For one girl shopping at ABBA Pets, even her pet guinea pig received a Christmas present.

"I got them a little dress that's like Mrs. Claus that has sparkles on it and stuff," said pet owner Ashlyn Frost. "I put it on it and it did not like it. It was not cooperating."

Whether they liked their gifts or not, the clothing, treats or a chew toy, you didn't see many pets lined up at the stores returning gifts they'd received unlike at other stores Thursday.

"If they could play with it or eat it, it makes them happy," Heye said.

Spending on pets is popular at Christmas as well as all year long.

The American Pet Products Association expects spending on pets to top $55 billion this year.



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