Man's best friend might just be treated like any other animal, if his owners live in the suburbs. Sociologists have found that people who think of animals as children tend to have a city background. But no matter where someone lives, having children often changes the owners' thoughts on their pets.
Researcher David Blouin says, "To think of pets as just another animal is not uncommon in rural areas, which makes sense given the utilitarian relationships people in rural areas are more likely to have with a range of different animals--from farm to wild animals.
[However,] "If you have kids, you have less time to spend with your pets. That's part of it, but not the whole story. People who think of their pets as their children often re-evaluate this thought when they have human children of their own."
The frequency of interactions owners had with their pets, as well as how often they take them to the veterinarian, is closely tied to how owners view their pets--whether as a child, a companion, or just another, albeit, useful animal. Just be careful about what and where you feed them.
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