Student psychiatrist Matt Cassells made a research how much people love their pets. The results indicate that pets are loved even more than close relatives. This research doesn’t show that pets can replace sisters and brothers. It provides additional information about the impact of animals on the development and welfare of children.
In the western world households have mostly similar number of children and home animals. People don’t do much about researching impacts of animals on children.
“Everyone who had a pet in childhood knows how much we depend on animals and that we are building with them relationships that are comparable to social relationships. We wanted to find out how strong these relationships are when compared to close family members. This could help us one day to determine how important could be the role of animals in healthy development of children“, Matt Cassells said.
The researchers surveyed 77 12-year-old children who have one or more pets and one or more sisters or brothers. The questions were mainly about home animals and family members, and the answers had shown that children are mostly more satisfied with their pets, rather than with sisters and brothers. Dogs got the best grades.
Children also discovered that they would rather talk about their problems with animals (pets) than with people.
“Even though pets don’t understand or can t answer them, children are equally honest with animals as with members of their close family. Pets have an advantage because their inability to answer seems like understanding without convincing, “says Cassells.
Previous researches have shown that boys are developing stronger relationships with home animals than girls. The results of this research don’t confirm it. This survey had shown opposite statistics. According to Cassells’ research, girls are more honest with pets and have deeper relationships with them.
Anyway, this research is a good step in the right direction. It would be useful to study how home animals are affecting children as they obviously represent certain social support during growing up. It may have an important impact on psychological health in later periods of life. Such researches are still too rare.