Companion Animal Capital

15 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2014 Last revised: 11 Jul 2015

Date Written: April 17, 2010


This Article presents a theory of the economic value of companion animal life. Under the existing United States torts regime, the standard damages award available to an owner for an action arising from a companion animal death is its fair market value. This approach implicitly assumes that pet owners are irrational, given that they generally invest more in their pets than the animal’s fair market value. This Article suggests that, based on an economic model that conceptualizes companion animals as an employee-investment hybrid, the value of a companion animal is higher than its fair market value. This model has implications for economic damages calculations in wrongful death lawsuits and for companion animal welfare.

Keywords: value, life, companion, animal, law, market value, tort

JEL Classification: K11, K19, J17

Suggested Citation

Gay, Sebastien, Companion Animal Capital (April 17, 2010). Animal Law Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Sebastien Gay (Contact Author)

The University of Chicago ( email )

Department of Economics
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-0887 (Phone)


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