Most people consider pets to be part of the family, just like a kid they'd want to save. Pets have feelings, thoughts, intelligence. etc. Also, some pets cost thousands of dollars, more than most of your electronics, so I can understand wanting to save that pet. As to idiots taking non-service animals everywhere they can get away with, that is just selfish behavior. The vast majority of those little pets are not well trained. Pet parents/owners who respect their pets and other people in public just don't put the pet or the public in that situation.
Did you ever stop to think that a first responder may need to know of there is a dog that will rip off his or her face if they kick in the door? I know my dog will not greet you with a smile if you kick in my door.
They will keep on getting away with it until enough people get bit by there dogs. Then the person who got bit sues the dumb owner who brought the doing into the store and the store itself for allowing the dog in the first place.
If I was a first responder I would NOT risk my life for your cat or dog. I would not even risk my life for my own dogs. What is with people bringing there little dogs into stores now and putting them into shopping carts?