WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - "Look at that smile, that's a million dollar smile," says Kathy Moses about her Morkie.
She treats the 3-year-old as a second son, and admits she spends money on Jet as if he were human. "He has his choice of toys. I had to get a second basket for the overflow."
She and her husband also have a young son, and her husband sometimes questions the amount of money she spends on their dog. "My husband was of the opinion that money could've been better spent elsewhere. But for me it was money well spent because I had a whole afternoon of fun with my two boys," she said.
Moses estimates she spends $1,500 on Jet every year. That's part of the approximately $48-billion the American Pet Products Association estimated Americans spent on their pets in 2010.
Most of those bills are for caring for the canines.
Nicole Gonzalez opened up B Paws We Care in West Palm Beach during the depressing dog days of the summer of the 2008 economy. Her clients never stopped spending, and now she's expanding her business.
"We really didn't lose any customers," she said. "Nobody came to the point where they'd stop bringing their dog because of that."
They'll spend money for grooming, daycare and some owners even setup play dates for their four-legged friends. "They need to be socialized, just as much as everybody else does," said Gonzalez.
Owners go as far to say the health of their pet is a higher priority than their own. If you were sick and he was sick, would you take him to the doctor first? Moses was asked. "Yeah, yeah," she laughed. "Anyone who knows me would expect that, I'm an animal lover."
Owners feel their pets are worth every penny because no matter what, they're always there for them.
When Wendy McGuire ended up in the hospital after a boating accident two years ago, guess who stayed by her side? "Molly (her dog) was my constant companion," she said. "For months in my hospital bed, and she knew that I was hurt."
McGuire estimates she spends about $125 per month on Molly, and that doesn't include her four other dogs. "They're the girls that I never had," she said.
She says you can't put a price on what Molly means to her. "She's a love."
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