Winnipeg police have expanded their Winnipeg Crime Stoppers tip line to help with animal cruelty cases.

For the first time in Canada, citizens can call in tips about animal abuse or cruelty to an anonymous, police-managed line.

“There’s a variety of reasons why people can’t always go to police directly, and we’re that outlet – that receptacle – for that information, when people need to do it anonymously,” said Det. Sgt. Tom MacKay of Crime Stoppers.

The tip line will accept calls relating to animal abuse, puppy mills and dog-fighting rings. Crime Stoppers has teamed up with PAW Tipsters, a charity that works to combat animal abuse in the province.

“Animals can’t speak for themselves, and you know, I think its important that people just kind of put aside any kind of fears that someone might find out who it is and just phone it in,” said Yvonne Russell of PAW Tipsters.

The Winnipeg Humane Society said incidents of animal abuse in the province are all too common.

“Every summer we usually are participating in at least two seizures, and it’s either a hoarding situation or a puppy mill situation,” said Bill McDonald of the Winnipeg Humane Society.

Within the last week, police have laid charges in two severe cases of animal abuse.

On July 17, a three-month-old kitten had to be euthanized after being bludgeoned with a baseball bat. Jennifer Clarke, 23, is now facing charges related to the attack.

In addition, a small Pomeranian dog was paralyzed after being beaten with a hockey stick in Ste. Anne. The owners’ neighbour had reportedly not wanted the dog sniffling through his garbage. On July 17, Christopher Lyons, 39, was charged in connection with the attack.

The owners of the Pomeranian said Friday the dog had to be euthanized.

If a tip leads to an arrest, PAW Tipsters will offer a cash reward to the caller.

Police said information received through Crime Stoppers will be forwarded to a variety of agencies for investigation and rewards will be awarded based on the outcomes of those investigations.

Anyone with information about cases of animal cruelty or abuse in the province is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.

PAW Tipsters is currently accepting donations to help pay callers for tips that lead to an arrest. Donations can be made to PAW Tipsters at P.O. Box 46002, Westdale PO, Winnipeg, Man. R3R 3S3. 

-- with a report from CTV's Caroline Barghout