When the ads ran on MSN’s United Kingdom website with links to donate to the charity, the one depicting the dog attracted twice as many clicks as the one with the boy (230, compared to 111).”

Why would people pick pooches over people? The study pontificates: “It may be that many people appraise dogs as vulnerable, regardless of their age, when compared to adult humans. In other words, dogs, whether young or adult, are seen as possessing many of the same qualities associated with human babies; they are seen as unable to fully protect themselves, compared to adult humans.”

Psychotherapist Justin Lioi agrees. “We are more able to empathize with someone whom we deem to have little blame for their circumstances,” Lioi told I Love My Dog. “Dogs and babies are the definition of didn’t-ask-for-this and we are more likely to rush to support them.”

Dr. Kathrine McAleese, a sociologist and systemic psychotherapist, has clients who work extensively with dogs. She said she sees this phenomenon regularly. “People who fit this study’s outcomes will often view animals as innocents and humans as not having the same purity,” McAleese told I Love My Dog. “When I ask them why they will spend money on their dog’s health, fitness, nutrition, yet not on themselves, the overwhelming answer I get is ‘because my dog deserves it.’”

McAleese adds dog trainers have told her how they struggle to have patience or empathy for the owner, yet have endless patience for the dog. “Why? The dog can’t speak up for itself, so they are the dog’s advocate,” she said.

The study results didn’t surprise certified behaviorist and animal trainer, Russell Hartstein either.  He told I Love My Dog: “Dogs provide unconditional love and many times people form stronger bonds with their pet than with another human.”


Hartstein said many of his clients take such good care of their pets, that it’s similar to how some care for their children. “From going to school for behavior and training, health, nutrition, wellness, enrichment and play, people form very close intimate bonds with their best friends.”

What do you think of the study? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments below and let us know!


Contributed by: Mary Schwager, aka, WatchdogMary , a TV and print journalist that proudly watchdogs for animals. She’s honored to have won 14 Emmy, 7 Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting & writing.