As cheesy as it sounds. They aren't just animals. They're family. I personally can say my two dogs are almost people. I have a purebred Great Pyrenees and a rescued Daschund. Both of them have their own personalities and sometimes do things that just blow my mind.
They do exhibit human tendencies. I can't look at them as just pets. They're practically my kids.
I personally haven't been in a situation where I've seen any abuse or anything, but I know if I was someone else better be around to keep me from totally losing my shit on the lowlife responsible.