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Party animals dress up for Halloween

It was a hilarious sight.

Dogs, cats and even two goats were dressed in everything imaginable. The array included a bumblebee goat, a dog dressed like a show horse, cats as clowns and a Harley Davidson dog.

People surely love their pets. About 40 owners proved their devotion Saturday by enrolling their beloved babies in the first Pet Halloween Costume Party and Contest at Spring Hill Pet Grooming, just off U.S. 19 near Northcliffe Boulevard.

Everyone was laughing as they sized up the competition.

One pet lover didn't have much competition in her category, most unusual pet. Juanita Fletcher brought her two pet goats and stole first and second place.

Pixie was dressed in a bumblebee outfit that included wings and antennae, and Faith impersonated the storybook character Miss Muffet.

"A lot of people have been coming up to us all day," Fletcher said. "They can't believe goats are just as easy to train as dogs. The only difference is that they don't bark."

Spring Hill Pet Grooming opened in April, but it was celebrating its grand opening with the pet costume gala.

"I wanted to do it when the snowbirds were here, but I didn't want it to run into the big holidays," said shop owner Susan Walker. "Business just took off from Day One. It was wonderful, so I thought I'd throw a big party."

And it surely seemed as though all the guests had a blast.

Between tunes from a disc jockey, pet photo sessions, and contests including cutest, scariest and most original costume, pets and their owners put on the ritz and strutted their stuff.

Scooter the dog and owner Alice Craig of Spring Hill won first place for the pet and owner look-alike contest. They were dressed like plump pumpkins.

"I think this event is so cute," Craig said. "When I came out of my house this morning, my neighbors just roared."

Even Hernando's Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will get a reward for their participation. The $114 raised from the $5 photo sessions and $2 entry fees will be split between the two organizations.

"This is great because it brings out the people. This area is very quiet; it's not like Tampa," said Gloria Handle, president of the Humane Society. "The elderly need things like this that will get them out."

The party also grabbed the attention of Marty McKinnon, membership manager for the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. She wished Walker good luck: "The location is wonderful and this type of business is always a success, because people love their pets."