05/05/2010 at 09:37 PM EDT
Since our furry friends are voiceless, it's always a plus when a celebrity steps up to speak on their behalf. And Katherine Heigl is doing just that. Yesterday, the actress announced
that her charity, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation
, will offer rewards in animal abuse cases investigated by Last Chance for Animals
"Getting the word out to a big audience can help us to catch an abuser quickly," Last Chance for Animals campaign director Kim Sill tells PEOPLEPets.com. "With Katherine's high profile, and true love for animals
, it will really make a difference in finding perpetrators and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law."
Sill says the partnership started to form about a year ago, when Heigl's mom Nancy called to talk about stories of animal abuse she'd seen in the news. "She came upon the story of Little Trooper, a dog who'd been burned
by some teenagers and left in an alley," Sill explains. Together, LCA and the Heigls got involved with police and posted flyers offering rewards. But the people behind the attack were never found. However, that wasn't about to stop the two organizations from attempting to track down other abusers. "Our goal is to someday never have these phone calls about such stories," Sill says.
From this point forward, LCA and the Heigls will team up when a high-profile animal abuse case surfaces. They'll organize press conferences, distribute educational materials and offer those all-important rewards. "We'll show America that there's a proper way to treat animals," Sill says. "And if you don't, we'll come after you."Read more about the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation on PEOPLEPets.com:Katherine Heigl Wants a Seventh Rescue DogKatherine Heigl's Foundation Saves the Lives of 25 Chihuahuas