Last week, Quebec welcomed pets into the circle of “sentient” beings by granting them many of the same rights as children in the eyes of the law. The legislation, hailed as the “Animals are Not Things Manifesto“ lifts the legal status of specific animals from mere property, i.e. inanimate objects like toaster ovens and iPhones that can be manipulated any which way, to sensitive, emotional beings that require nurturing and respect.
Quebec’s new regulations also address the psychological care of dogs, cats, horses and certain wild animals, requiring that each animal be given necessary stimulation, socialization, and environmental enrichments. Any actions or activities that expose an animal to extreme anxiety or suffering are subject to legal consequences.
This shift in how we think of our pets — from animals as property to animals as sensitive beings — isn’t just happening in Quebec. New Zealand and France changed their laws this year, too.