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£520 million 'spent on pets'

Further proof that Britain is a nation of animal lovers has been provided by new research showing more than £520 million was spent on buying pets in the last year.New cats and dogs have cost UK residents £2.6 billion since 2002, Halifax pet insurance says.But despite dog fanatics spending £282 per pooch and cat lovers shelling out £92 on every kitty, the insurance provider warns that pet owners are underestimating vet bills by 103 per cent."The research reinforces the perception of Britain as a nation of pet lovers who are happy to spend large amounts of money to purchase their perfect pet," said Halifax's Vicky Watson."However, it is worrying that so few pet owners are researching the upkeep costs for their chosen pet before selecting an animal."And showing that man's best friend is indeed his dog, the survey shows that male Britons spent an average of £335 on canines in 2006, £106 more than women.The majority of dogs homed in the last five years came directly from breeders, with just 23 per cent coming from animal rescue centres, Halifax claims.But the most popular way of getting a cat was from a friend of an owner (31 per cent), with a quarter coming from rescue centres.

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