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If Your Dog and a Stranger Were About to Be Hit By a Bus, Who Would You Save?

Humans and Dogs
David McNew, Getty Images

The title is an interesting question and according to a new study, 40-percent of people would save their dog before the stranger. That number jumps to 46-percent for women. It seems like our empathy and compassion for each other is at an all-time low in today’s world. What does that say about us and our society, that a human life is less valuable than that of an animal or pet? I understand the connection people have with their pets and animals in general, but this seems rather extreme to me even though, I am surprised those percentages aren’t a little higher.

Road rage for example, is at an all-time high right now and confrontational behavior in general has escalated tremendously in the last decade…why? Frustration over today’s economy, healthcare, politics and global unrest are certainly some of the main contributors, but something just feels different in today’s world, doesn’t it?

Earlier this week another study by Northeastern University in Boston concluded that people feel more empathy and compassion for a dog that is in pain, as opposed to a human in pain. The only other human element according to the study, where the level of compassion and empathy matched that for dogs, was for children, which is very good news.

Respondents were told fictitious stories about the beating of a toddler, a 30-year-old adult, a puppy and an adult dog. Guess who had the lowest level of compassion? That’s right, the 30-year-old human adult…tell ’em what they’ve won Johnny! The toddler I understand, but a dog garners more compassion that a human adult…really?

While that is not surprising, it is a little scary. Humans appear to be much less tolerant of each other anymore, while maintaining very high levels of tolerance and empathy for animals, which just seems backwards to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but if I come up on a burning building or see a tragedy getting ready to unfold and the potential victims are humans and animals….I am going to try and save the humans before even considering the animals, but that’s just me. What would you do?



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