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      Pet owners show the love at Christmas

      MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - People aren't the only ones who could find Christmas gifts under the tree this year. Overall, Americans spend 5 billion on their pets annually during the holiday season.

      "She has a lot of her favorite treats that Santa will put in her stocking," Brenda Rousseau said about her 8-month-old Chihuahua Elsa. "Her collar this year is purple, so she is getting her purple blanket and her little sweater and her purple basket to put her in."

      Heather Hardwick said she treats her dogs like the kids she never had.

      "They both have Christmas pajamas, they have stockings. They already had pre-Christmas presents."

      Both women are regular shoppers at Hairy Winston pet boutique in Mount Pleasant. Owner, Jennie Katherman said business has tripled during the holiday season.

      "People are absolutely not shy about pulling out their wallets and spending money on their pets. Some even spend more on them than their families."

      Rousseau said that's very true, adding she spends more on Elsa and her kids get jealous.

      "We really don't distinguish between pets and family members. Especially since my kids are grown and have kids of their own. She's my little baby," she said.

      As to how much Rousseau said she spent on Elsa this year, she can't put a number to it.

      "I'm sure it's up there."

      Hardwick said she spends a $100 a week on her two dogs.

      "I'm actually embarrassed to say how much I spent," she said. "I could probably buy a corvette for what I spent this year on them."

      According to a petfinder.com poll, 63 percent of dog owners and 58 percent of cat owners will give their pet a present this year.

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