02:55PM, Wednesday 18 May 2022
A Maidenhead filmmaker has created a documentary to give a voice to victims of pet thefts in an attempt to get justice for them.
Muddy Paws Crime highlights the stories of heart-broken dog owners – addressing illegal breeding and animal welfare issues across the UK.
Now the trailer for the film has reached 14,000 views and garnered attention in national media.
Lisa Loops, 53, set up her production company Leomina Productions with co-director Molly Marie after switching to a career in acting aged 48.
Yet the company’s work has been centred on this documentary for the past year – moved by the plight of those posting on missing dog groups of Facebook.
“I saw the number of stolen dogs going up and up, and the trail had gone cold,” said Lisa. “I thought, ‘I need to do something – I can’t just watch this, crying my eyes out.’”
She and six volunteers have been reaching out to owners individually in their spare time – people whose dogs uncharacteristically disappeared from gardens or on walks.
As weeks progressed, owners started to contact Muddy Paws Crime ‘begging for help’.
It is now helping with four local suspected dog thefts, including Lola (black Labrador) missing since October 7, 2020, from fields at River Road in Taplow; and Dana (terrier cross) missing since June 18, 2016, from Langley.
Lola (left) and Dana (right)
Maple (Cockapoo) is missing since March 21, from Hogsmoor lane, Hurst; and Dexter (red fox Labrador) is missing since January 14 2021, from Hogback Woods, Beaconsfield.
Maple (left) and Dexter (right)
“The police and Government need to see that it rips families apart,” said Lisa. “People are petrified to walk their dogs in fear of them being stolen.”
The theft of pets could be for a number of reasons, such as illegal breeding, hunting, dogfighting or dogfighting bait, depending on the breed.
“When dogs are missing for a while, owners don’t know where to turn,” said Lisa. “It’s difficult to prove they’ve been stolen.
“You have to pressure the police and have to hand things on a plate to them to get anything done.”
Some stolen dogs are rehomed by rescue centres.
“I didn’t realise that rescues are unlicensed and unregulated,” said Lisa. “Anyone can open a rescue.”
As such, Muddy Paws Crime has set up a petition to introduce mandatory licensing and regulation of animal rescue centres.
The petition can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/600174
Muddy Paws Crime is pushing for much stricter rules and checks at ports – and also hopes to educate people to not buy pets online, as this feeds the thefts.
Since beginning this work, Lisa and the team have received many thanks from the community.
“They know my laptop is on until midnight, one o’clock in the morning. We have got to always be there for the owners. It’s not something you can ever just walk away from,” she said.
The team has also published a petition to require police to offer victim support for all victims of pet theft, at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/611792
The full film is hoped to be completed this year – though this is dependent on funding, which has been a struggle.
Find Muddy Paws Crime at facebook.com/muddypawscrime
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