This may come as no surprise to dog lovers out there.
But a study has revealed that not only do we consider man’s – and woman’s – best friend as a member of the family.
In some cases we hold more affection for our pooches than for our fellow human beings.
Researchers examined whether people are affected more by reports of animal than of human suffering or abuse.
For the study, 256 college students were given fake news reports about an attack on a person, or on a dog.
In the report, the victim was attacked ‘with a baseball bat by an unknown assailant’ and was left unconscious ‘with one broken leg’ and ‘multiple lacerations.’
Participants showed more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for adult humans.
The researchers concluded that the ‘subjects did not view their dogs as animals, but rather as “fur babies,” or family members alongside human children.’
Meanwhile, another study has found that children who grow up with dogs have less risk of anxiety later on.
Previous studies have found that having a pet during childhood reduces the risk of allergies.
And now a team at Bassett Medical Center in New York has discovered that having a pet dog cuts anxiety risk in half.
The study involved 643 children aged six and seven. Just 12% tested positive for anxiety compared to 21% of the non-dog-owning kids.
Researcher Anne Gadomski said children and pets can have a special relationship.
‘Sometimes their first word is the name of their pet,’ she told NBC News.
‘From a mental health standpoint, children aged 7 to 8 often ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem and as confidants,’ the researchers wrote.