This was actually something of a blow to Pluto's status as a planet, which had never been terribly robust anyway. Since previously the space occupied by the moon and the space occupied by Pluto were thought to be one and the same, it meant that Pluto was much smaller than anyone had supposed—smaller even than Mercury. Indeed, seven moons in the solar system, including our own, are larger.
Now a natural question is why it took so long for anyone to find a moon in our own solar system. The answer is that it is partly a matter of where astronomers point their instruments and partly a matter of what their instruments are designed to detect, and partly it's just Pluto. Mostly it's where they point their instruments. In the words of the astronomer Clark Chapman: "Most people think that astronomers get out at night in observatories and scan the skies. That's not true. Almost all the telescopes we have in the world are designed to peer at very tiny little pieces of the sky way off in the distance to see a quasar or hunt for black holes or look at a distant galaxy. The only real network of telescopes that scans the skies has been designed and built by the military."
We have been spoiled by artists' renderings into imagining a clarity of resolution that doesn't exist in actual astronomy. Pluto in Christy's photograph is faint and fuzzy—a piece of cosmic lint—and its moon is not the romantically backlit, crisply delineated companion orb you would get in a National Geographic painting, but rather just a tiny and extremely indistinct hint of additional fuzziness. Such was the fuzziness, in fact, that it took seven years for anyone to spot the moon again and thus independently confirm its existence.