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7% of dog owners to buy Halloween costume for Fido

CHICAGO (MCT) — Halloween is going to the dogs.

Want to dress up Fifi as Princess Leia of "Star Wars"? You can do it at Target for $9.99. Is Duke eager to be a super hero? Amazon has a dashing superman costume for $19.99.

"Humanizing accessories," as they're known in the pet trade, are the fastest-growing category in the $41 billion U.S. pet market, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. No wonder stores are stuffing their shelves like never before with dress-up for dogs.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said sales of pet clothing and costumes have risen "tremendously in the past few years," according to Mia Masten, regional director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart in the Midwest. Its top-selling dog costumes for Halloween: a princess, a witch and Dracula, she said.

About 7 percent of dog owners plan to purchase a Halloween costume for their pet this year, up from 4 percent in 2004, according to the Greenwich, Conn.-based pet trade group's annual national pet owners survey. The National Retail Federation, a retail trade group based in Washington, D.C., put the figure higher at 11 percent of U.S. households. The NRF ranked devils, pumpkins, witches, princesses and angels as the most popular costumes.