South Koreans spent big at pet shops and veterinary clinics in August from a year earlier, data showed Monday, due to the rising popularity of owning companion animals in the country. The combined amount of purchases made on goods and services related to pets with plastic cards came to 83.1 billion won (US$77.7 million) in August, up 20.9 percent from a year earlier, the Credit Finance Association data showed. Spending on animal-related goods came to 21.3 billion won in August, rising 33 percent on-year, and the transactions made at veterinary clinics also advanced 17.2 percent over the cited period to reach 61.8 billion won. Market watchers said the rising amount of pet-related transactions with plastics came as more cardholders adopted companion animals amid the increasing number of one-member households in South Korea. The demand for pet-related insurance programs, meanwhile, also gathered ground this year, implying the growing presence of pet-related instruments in the country\'s financial sector. Lotte Nonlife Insurance Co., a financial arm of South Korea\'s retail conglomerate Lotte Group, said the number of subscribers for its pet insurance came to 437 at end-August this year. The program was launched in February. Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co. said it has sold 476 contracts of its pet-insurance programs through August this year since it was first launched in November 2012.