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Humane society sees both good and bad in $60K reward to nab animal abusers

A starved cat with its mouth taped shut is shown in a Calgary Humane Society handout photo. A reward fund set up to find the person responsible for the brutal killing a dog and cat in Calgary has been capped at $20,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Humane Society

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A starved cat with its mouth taped shut is shown in a Calgary Humane Society handout photo. A reward fund set up to find the person responsible for the brutal killing a dog and cat in Calgary has been capped at $20,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Humane Society

CALGARY - A reward to find whoever is responsible for the brutal deaths of a cat and dog has topped $60,000, but an official from the humane society says the attention could be a double-edged sword.

The Calgary Humane Society began investigating after a starved Siberian husky and a cat were discovered in the same alley with their mouths taped shut.

The dog, which had apparently starved to death, was found Jan. 9, while the cat was found last week with green painter's tape covering most of its face.

The online campaign has collected $61,606 for the Calgary Animal Abuse Fund and is urging the public to be part of the solution to stop animal abuse.

"It's at a ridiculous amount now. That's a motivating number," said Brad Nichols, cruelty investigations manager for the humane society.

"There are people who would turn in their own mother for that kind of money, so I can certainly see that financial amount would speak to some people," Nichols said. "But ... you have to look at the credibility of the information you're getting when you're putting up that kind of money."

The investigation continues with tips from the public, but the humane society hasn't yet "zeroed in on a suspect."

Nichols admits the viciousness of what happened is rare. Most of the time cases involve minor neglect that can be resolved with some adjustments and education.

"We do occasionally get these more disturbing ones, but it's the job and we take solace in the fact we are able to make some difference and accountability for these animals that have this horrible ending."

The federal government signalled last fall it would write new legislation to protect animals that work with police. The so-called "Quanto's Law" is in honour of a police dog that was killed in Edmonton.

Police complained after Quanto was stabbed during the takedown of a fleeing suspect that the strongest criminal charge that could be laid was cruelty to an animal.

A private member's bill to amend the Criminal Code is also before the House of Commons.

A Calgary member of the legislature is bringing forward his own animal cruelty bill.

"I know that the federal level is putting through a private member's bill on harsher punishment for service dogs, and I think we have to go beyond that to any animal that a person abuses in any way," Calgary Foothills member Len Webber said this week.

"There should be harsher punishments out there, including incarceration."

Webber said current Alberta legislation provides for a fine of up to $20,000.

"That's not significant enough. We need to put these people in jail, those who do horrendous crimes like what happened here in Calgary last week."

It's not known what Webber is looking for in tougher legislation. A government spokeswoman said the bill is still being drafted and details can't be released until it is introduced in the legislature.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter.

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