Animals and Humans are actually synonymous. To be more precise, humans are part of the subgroup of animals known as mammals. We have both evolved from the same ancestor. It is no wonder they are so interconnected into our lives. We depend on them for survival, companionship, power, and we have collectively existed in the same biome. In fact, the only distinction that exists between animals and humans is the subjective colloquialism of "human" or "civil" that we as people use to describe a specific being. Humans share approximately 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees. This is a staggering figure when one considers that humans (and some monkeys) have 23 pairs of chromosomes composed of about 6,000,000,000 base pairs of DNA.
Without the major diversity of animals on this planet, humans would unlikely be able to exist. Every animal species play an important ecological niche that supports the livelihood of many organisms. For example insects and birds play an important part in the pollination of many plant species. If the hummingbirds were to disappear many plants necessary to human survival would be unable to grow the fruits that we depend on. This is just one example of the delicate balance between human and animal coexistence. If you take just one species out of an ecosystem it can have devastating effects that can harm the other species including us.
Regardless of the historical dependency on animal species for the survival of both humans, our common origin alone paints a web of similarity regardless of the differences one might initially be drawn towards. Animals have also made great companions for thousands of years. Humans have lived with cats and dogs for so long that they have become domesticated, meaning they are dependent on us for survival. These animals seem to show emotion and loyalty to their owners. Some people have taken animal companionship to the extreme, for instance the crazy pigeon lady in Home Alone who spends her days feeding them. Pets are common throughout culture and societies; we are naturally fascinated by their behavior and appearance.
Many animals are used as an extension of human power. Before machinery, horses and mules were necessary for agriculture. Horses and other animals can also provide quick transport. Animals are sometimes displayed as tokens of power, like the CEO with a tiger skin rug. People will hand out thousands of dollars to get ahold of fur and other animal byproducts like ivory. Even though there is widespread criticism of this from advocates like GreenPeace many individuals are still fascinated by it.
We often see history through the lens of solely our species, which has allowed us as a society to remain ignorant of our ancestral relatives. Although mankind has progressed radically both technologically and evolutionarily, we have gone down a path that has led to the concurrent degeneracy of our relative animals. This ignorance has led to the greatest mass extinction period since the Ice Age. Man and animal are too similar to let this travesty continue.