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Quebec bill calls animals ‘sentient beings’ and includes jail time for cruelty

WATCH: The Quebec government has tabled a bill that gives new rights to animals and includes jail time for people found guilty of mistreating them; it calls animals sentient beings with biological needs as opposed to the property of humans. Elysia Bryan-Baynes has more.

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has tabled a bill that gives new rights to animals and includes jail time for people found guilty of mistreating them.

The legislation calls animals sentient beings with biological needs as opposed to the property of humans.

Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis introduced the bill in the national assembly Friday, saying he wants to change Quebec’s infamous image as a haven for puppy mill owners in North America.

READ MORE: Quebec to amend Civil Code to better protect animals from abuse

The bill applies to domestic, farm and certain wild animals.

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Violators of the bill can be fined up to $250,000, while repeat offenders can be jailed up to 18 months.