What price loyalty? What price friendship? What price love?  Well, try this checkbook on for size.  You could buy 72 Mona Lisa’s…or… 10 nuclear reactors…or… just over one Bill Gates for what Americans spend on their pets.

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According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2011 alone, U.S. pet lovers set a new record by shelling out a howling total of $50.98 billion on their animal friends, whether furred, feathered, shelled or scaled.  And the association predicts that Americans will set a new record this year a whopping $53 billion.  Pet food took a $20 billion bite out of U.S. pet lovers' budgets. Owners also paid out $13.4 billion for vet care, $12 billion on supplies and over the counter meds, and $4 billion on "other services," including boarding, grooming and pet sitting.