LUXEMBOURG — This tiny country has long been known for its unsavory status as a tax haven. But now Luxembourg may be on its way to forging a new title: as animal rights capital of the world.

A new government bill aims to protect the "security and dignity" of animals, and recognizes that they possess "certain rights," reports Le Quotidien, a prominent daily in Luxembourg.

The government boasts that if the measure is passed, it would provide the strongest animal protections in the world. Those convicted of mistreating their furry friends could face prison time ranging from eight days to three years, and fines up to 200,000 euros, a far more severe penalty than what was outlined in a 1983 law on the subject.

The government proposal, which animal rights groups helped draft, argues that animals possess rights because they have "a nervous system with the ability to feel pain and other emotions," thereby broadening the definition of mistreatment to include "anguish and suffering."

The bill, however, doesn't appear to address the "anguish" of cattle that may wind up on your dinner table. As noted in another Luxembourg newspaper L'Essentiel, the bill prohibits raising animals for slaughter primarily for their skin, fur, feather or wool, and bans the practice of killing economically unviable male chicks. It also aims to stop animals from being offered as prizes or gifts and reserves the sale of dogs and cats to breeders that guarantee the welfare of the four-legged creatures.

"This law is more than necessary," says Marie-Anne Heinen of ASBL, a Luxembourg-based animal rights group, adding that violence against animals has risen in the last 25 years. "It will help associations like mine continue to carry out their work."

If the bill becomes law, animals would find a friendly home in Luxembourg. It's the kind of haven taxpayers around the world can rally behind.