Recent studies have been looking into relationships between children and their pets.
A recent study at Oregon State University demonstrates that there is a "bidirectional" bond between children and their household pet. So the child forms a bond with that pet and the pet forms a bond with that child.
The Children's Treatment of Animal Questionnaire and the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale is used to measure the strength of attachment. A study done in 2017 surveyed over one thousand children, ages 7-12 years old, found that a majority have a strong attachment with their pet. Girls scored higher on compassion behavior, friendship behavior, caring behavior and attitudes towards animals than boys. Those children older, 9-12 years old, scored higher on caring behavior but not higher on compassion than the younger children. Family socioeconomic status did have any significant difference. The study also found that the type of pet did make a difference. Cats and dogs scored higher on compassion than other pets such as reptiles, horses and birds. Children in the study reported, among other things, that they would be lonely without their pet, and that their pet knew when they were upset and would try to provide comfort.
Most of us grew up with a pet, or pets, that we loved dearly, we cared for, and looked after their well being. But sometimes it takes a study, or numerous ones, to scientifically measure the importance of these child/pet relationships scientifically. The findings of these types of studies can be summed up by saying, pets are important to children.