In early 2014, the Montreal SPCA, in collaboration with food ethics author and blogger Élise Desaulniers and moral philosophy researcher Martin Gibert, launched the Animals Are Not Things manifesto. The manifesto calls for a reform of the legal status of animals in the Civil Code of Quebec. Currently, the Civil Code there, as in many provinces and states, considers animals to be moveable property, no different from a toaster or a chair. (I know—crazy, right?

The manifesto demands that animals be granted a legal status distinct from that of inanimate objects, one that takes into account their capacity to feel pleasure and pain—to grant them, in short, the status of sentient beings.

To date, over 50,000 individuals have signed the manifesto. In response to such overwhelming public support, Minister of Agriculture Pierre Paradis recently announced that a bill that would redefine animals in the Civil Code of Quebec and grant animals the status of sentient beings is ready to be made public, pending approval by the Minister of Justice. He also indicated that the bill would include significant improvements to the Animal Health Protection Act, Quebec’s provincial animal welfare legislation.

As Sophie Gaillard, Lawyer and Campaigns Manager for the Montreal SPCA Animal Advocacy Department, said, “This bill represents a unique opportunity to effect real change for all animals in this province and for Quebec to become a leader in animal welfare instead of continuing to lag behind.”

Way to go, animal lovers of Quebec! We all at times doubt the difference we can make, so it’s a wonderful thing to be reminded that, united, we're a powerful force. Why not start such a movement in your own area and stand up to be counted on the side of animals?