In 2015, in response to a campaign spearheaded by the Montreal SPCA, the province of Quebec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally recognize animals as sentient beings. Article 898.1 of the Civil Code of Quebec states that: “Animals are not things. They are sentient beings and have biological needs.”

Drawing on the speaker’s personal involvement in the campaign that led to the adoption of article 898.1, this talk will discuss how and why this provision was enacted and to what extent it has affected animals’ legal status in Quebec. The talk will also critically assess article 898.1’s impact on animal welfare and how the provision has been invoked in legal proceedings. The talk will end with an exploration of what further changes to the legal framework governing animals are required in order to adequately protect animals in Quebec.