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What Are You Spending Your Billions On?


Americans spent $38.5 billion on their pets in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association and are projected to reach $40.8 billion this year.

A news release promoting a "Fair Flat Tax Act," distributed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), pointed out that "American taxpayers spend more than $100 billion on tax preparation each year. And the six billion hours each year that Americans are estimated to spend doing their taxes is greater than the combined annual working hours of every American employed in the manufacture of cars, computers, airplanes and steel in the United States."

While tax preparers are in no immediate danger of winding up on the government cheese line anytime soon, there's another group that won't be going hungry, either:


Americans spent $38.5 billion on their pets in 2006, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association and are projected to reach $40.8 billion this year.

The APPMA statistics show that $16.1 billion of that goes toward pet food.

By comparison, The Nielsen Co. says baby food is a $3.7 billion a year industry in the United States.

Organic baby food accounts for a very small portion of the overall baby food market, but it is on the rise-a fact that hasn't slipped past manufacturers and retailers of strained peas, carrots, and the like.

Whole Foods (WFMI) tripled the space allotted to organic baby products in its stores.

Gerber (now a unit of Nestlé) re-branded its Tender Harvest line, changing the name to Gerber Organics.

And Abbott Labs (ABT) introduced an organic version of its Similac baby formula.

Building out the organic niche further, Petite Select offers parents certified organic Glatt Kosher baby food.

"No pureed crawfish tonight, sweetheart…"

Not to be left behind, a Yorkshire, England-based company called Mumtaz Food Industries caters to the Halal baby, with a line of foods that "adhere to the strictest Halal standards."

"Eat your couscous, or you get no halvah."

But, what if your dog's religious beliefs happen to influence his/her dietary requirements?

Fear not-Fort Lauderdale's KosherPets has you covered.

"Eat, Fido! You're gonna waste away to nothing!"

While dog lovers are likely quite pleased with the bumper crop of innovative products available to them, the U.S. Patent Office is straining under the weight of 700,000 backlogged patent applications and an average 31 month review time.

The New York Times reports that around 50% of all patent applications are being approved this year, down from 72% in 2000.

They say that, to improve your chances of your invention being approved for a patent, make sure it is "both new and useful."

Like the Flat-D?

Brian Conant of Mililani, HI, is the inventor and patent holder of the Flat-D, (U.S. Patent #6,313,371), a garment for dogs fitted with a special activated charcoal filter.

While serving in the Hawaii Army National Guard, Conant participated in a simulated chemical attack. In his protective gear, he "released gas and noticed that he couldn't smell any odor-nor could anyone else."

Voila! The Flat-D (Flatulence Deodorizer) for dogs was born.

No more blaming it on the dog…

Is your dog licensed to fly light aircraft but can't tolerate the noise?

Michele McGuire of Westminster, MD, has a patent pending on Mutt Muffs, another "new and useful" product available at, which costs $52 and are American-made in Ennice, N.C.

"Uh, Cessna N3518, this is the control tower. We're having a little trouble understanding your last transmission…"

Finally, there's the Nylabone Galileo (patent pending)-a product the manufacturer describes as "the world's strongest dog bone."

It could also be "the world's strangest dog bone."

"Ummm…yeah, uh…do you have anything slightly more, uh…traditional?"

I can only imagine that Galileo himself would be nothing short of very, very proud.

Galileo: his life's work finally complete, thanks to Nylabone

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