In some countries, where the people are starving themselves, there is no question that animals are required to fend for themselves. In that kind of dire living situation, where human beings do not have enough to eat, I could understand why it would be unacceptable to make the choice to feed the animals when children are hungry.
In America, where only those with the financial circumstances that allow for the responsibility of the expenses of a pet, companion animals become part of the family. A pet, like a child, is completely dependent on its guardians for everything, including vet care, day to day interaction, food, water, any necessary medications and love, basically its ability to not only survive, but ideally, thrive. Since the decision to take on the responsibility of a pet is voluntary, why should pets receive any less than any other dependent from their caretaker?
Bonding with a pet is a powerfully emotional comittment. As children grow up, they become independent, with beliefs and lives of their own. A pet remains like a perpetual child; dependent, loyal, affectionate, often displaying the closest form of unconditional love any human being ever knows. With that said, I believe the only form of treatment that should be looked down upon regarding a pet is neglect and abuse. Pets are living beings that feel hunger, fear, pain and loneliness. They deserve the best life that human beings can give them.