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Example with a context (The Object-Oriented Thought Process by Matt Weisfeld, 3rd Edition):

There are a lot of variables involved in building a design and producing a software product. The users must work hand-in-hand with the developers at all stages. In the analysis phase, the users and the developers must do the proper research and analysis to determine the statement of work, the requirements of the project, and whether to actually do the project.The last point might seem a bit surprising, but it is important. During the analysis phase, there must not be any hesitation to terminate the project if there is a valid reason to do so. Too many times pet project status or some political inertia keeps a project going, regardless of the obvious warning signs that cry out for project cancellation.Assuming that the project is viable, the primary focus of the analysis phase is for everyone to learn the systems (both the old and the proposed new one) and determine the system requirements.

I don't quite understand the phrase pet project status. Status in this context evidently means high social standing or something of that nature. If the phrase is to be understood as the status of a pet project, then why not say it exactly like that? I'm actually not even sure if my guess is even remotely correct. Clear things up for me please.

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pet project status here means "the status of being [somebody's] pet project"—that is, somebody influential is very fond of the project and insists that it be pursued.

This is not the same thing as "status of a pet project", which would ordinarily be understood to mean the current state of development of [somebody's] pet project. Compare:

My boss wants to know the status of her pet project.
My boss thinks this project will advance her career, so I have to give it 'pet project' status.

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