People feel more empathy with dogs than they do their own species, a new study suggests.

Chil­dren, how­ever, remain about on par as with canines.

The find­ings, pre­sented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the Amer­ican Soci­o­log­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, zeroed in on age as the biggest factor elic­iting empathy.

Marked by vul­ner­a­bility and depen­dence, dogs are seen as our wards — and much like chil­dren, we have a respon­si­bility to safe­guard their welfare.

Con­trary to pop­ular thinking, we are not nec­es­sarily more dis­turbed by animal rather than human suf­fering,” said study co-​​author Jack Levin, a pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in a state­ment. “Our results indi­cate a much more com­plex sit­u­a­tion with respect to the age and species of vic­tims, with age being the more impor­tant component.”

The fact that adult human crime vic­tims receive less empathy than do child, puppy, and full grown dog vic­tims sug­gests that adult dogs are regarded as depen­dent and vul­ner­able not unlike their younger canine coun­ter­parts and kids.”

The study involved 240 men and women, most of them white and between 18 and 25. They were asked to read a fic­tional news story about var­ious sub­jects being beaten — a tod­dler, a 30-​​something adult, a puppy and a six-​​year-​​old dog.

Then respon­dents rated how much they cared about each subject.

Levin, along with North­eastern pro­fessor Arnold Arluke, con­sid­ered the opin­ions of 240 men and women, most of whom were white and between the ages of 18–25.

The study tar­geted dogs, but Levin sug­gested the find­ings would be sim­ilar for cats as well.

Read the article at Huffington Post →