I want to say something about the impression given in the Los Angeles Times article (below) that pets are nothing more than some kind of substitute for children, relationships, friends, or whatever.
A pet is an important part of my house. My cat is not a substitute for a child (thank you very much), nor a substitute for friends, or for a healthy relationship. I treat my cat with respect, but she is a cat, not a human. She does not wear sweaters, does not get pampered at a day spa, and eats traditional cat food. Is she spoiled? Probably. But she does not get any kind of preferential treatment -- well, except for the occasional bowl of tuna juice, but that's not really unusual, is it?
Here follows two very different views of pets. I am not making any other comment about them. Things are what they are.
In America, pets are pampered and spoiled.
In Zimbabwe, pets are becoming food. (Warning: this article contains some unpleasant descriptions.)