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      Pet friendly hotels a growing trend

      When Chris Buttolph goes anywhere, Miese isn't far behind.

      "Only time she's not with me is when I'm at work," said Buttolph. Miese is his 3-year-old American Bulldog. "She's like another child, she's definitely part of the family."

      Because he's vacationing in Myrtle Beach from West Virginia, he's got to find a hotel with accommodations for both him and his bulldog buddy.

      But luckily for the two friends, there's a new niche at the beach, and it's catering to man's best friend.

      Pet friendly accommodations are popping up at hotels and resorts in our area.

      "That is a big factor. A lot of people discourage it, and they don't like the animals."

      Now, more than ever, Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association President Stephen Greene says hotels and resorts are accommodating pets.

      "Travel Industry Association of America has estimated that 30 million visitors travel with their pets each year," said Greene. "It's a huge market."

      Greene believes this trend will grow on the Grand Strand. "Guests are demanding that they come with their pets, and hotels will have to alter their management decisions to keep up with this growing trend."

      95 percent of the rooms at The Ocean Park Resort in Myrtle Beach cater to pets.

      "We've got a place here for the pets to use the bathroom on the astroturf," said manager Mike Deaton.

      Recently, named the hotel the third pet friendliest hotel in the nation.

      The hotel advertises heavily that they are pet friendly, but sometimes people who are allergic to animals rent rooms there by mistake.

      Ocean Park will try to accommodate those people, though in severe allergic cases, they cancel the room and help the person find another hotel for the night, said Deaton.

      "Far less people are allergic than those wanting a pet friendly place," said Deaton, "It's helped tremendously about a third of our business is pets."

      Finding a niche along the beach helps bring repeat customers, said Deaton.

      "There's way more people who want to bring them because they're their babies, and it costs less to bring them here than it is to board them at home."

      Boarding Miese is never an option, said Buttolph.

      "I worry about who's looking after her," said Buttolph. "She's been with me a long time. "

      When booking a hotel that is pet friendly, be sure to check that you're pet meets weight restrictions sometimes imposed at hotels.

      Do you agree that more hotels will have to become pet friendly in the future?