Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cruelty tipster program in T.O.

Organization grows to the big smoke

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Winnipeg's Paw Tipsters has gone national.

The non-profit organization, which started in July 2012 to combat animal abuse in partnership with Winnipeg Crime Stoppers, announced today its expansion to Toronto.

Paw Tipsters operates with the same anonymity as Crime Stoppers, where people call the hotline to report information of animal abuse. Tips are investigated and if evidence of abuse is uncovered, there is a cash reward.

'Since we started it, I always thought it would be something that would be good to have right across Canada because animal cruelty doesn't just take place here'

-- Winnipeg Paw Tipsters president Yvonne Russell

"Since we started it, I always thought it would be something that would be good to have right across Canada because animal cruelty doesn't just take place here," said Winnipeg Paw Tipsters president Yvonne Russell. "I thought Toronto would be a great starting point and we already have a working relationship here with Crime Stoppers so it was easy for Toronto Crime Stoppers to jump on board."

Russell is in Toronto today for the official announcement.

"I'm excited to see us grown in this way, Toronto is a huge city. I'm just really proud of what Paw Tipsters is doing and what we are becoming. Hopefully it's going to spread like wildfire out there and people are going to be phoning in animal-cruelty tips in Toronto as well."

She said further expansion is planned as Paw Tipsters prepares to approach another large city.

To report incidents of animal cruelty, people are asked to call the Crime Stoppers line at 204-786-TIPS (8477) or toll-free at 1-800-222-8477.

Paw Tipsters also forwards any information it receives directly to Crime Stoppers, which links with local law enforcement organizations to handle the investigation and, if necessary, the Winnipeg Humane Society or provincial veterinarian office. It will work the same way in Toronto.

Russell said each tip is investigated and serious tips can pay $2,000 to the tipster.

"We will pay more for the larger-scale tips," she said. "We would like to get to the bottom of puppy mills and dogfighting so tips like that would pay in the neighbourhood of $2,000."

"We're starting to make a bigger difference, the more people know about us," Russell said. "I always thought that if we saved even one animal, it was worth it to me. The big thing is just saving them from the situation that they are in. Calls come in all the time and several animals have been removed from very bad situations due to the tips through Paw Tipsters so to me, it's already so worthwhile."

Paw Tipsters is a registered charity that relies on donations to pay for tips so anyone wanting to help is asked to email pawtipsters@hotmail.ca.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2013 A12

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Updated on Monday, June 17, 2013 at 8:00 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds fact box

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