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'Once you start helping you can't walk away' - Muddy Paws Crime is fighting pet theft

Words by Abi Scaife

Inspired by the stories of bereft pet owners, one woman is on a mission to end pet theft.

Lisa Loops is the director of an independent TV production company - which isn’t exactly the sort of job you’d think would lead you to running an animal charity. But for Lisa, that’s exactly what happened.

“The situation was just getting out of hand really,” said Lisa Loops. “Every other social media post I saw was a stolen dog. So I had the idea of doing the Pet Theft Production.”

The idea behind the Pet Theft Production was to raise awareness of this relative epidemic of thefts. Though the production never got off the ground, hearing the stories of these owners, who were devastated without their beloved pet, opened her eyes to the reality of what is going on.

“I put a call out for stolen dog owners at the time … and was inundated. People were calling out for a production,” Lisa tells Smiley News. Lisa joined Karen Field, who was also helping owners, to talk with the police force together. From there, Karen and Lisa were able to reunite an owner with their beloved dog - and the word began to spread. Fast forward to now, and Lisa is the director of Muddy Paws Crime - a charity designed to raise awareness of pet theft and reunite animals with their owners.

“Because of that success, we started getting a lot of people coming to us with similar situations,” explains Lisa. “And the feedback from the public is that we've filled a gap that a lot of other groups don't do. All lost and stolen groups are fantastic because they're run by volunteers - but a lot won't help when it's [deemed] civil by the police because it takes so much time to try and get something together.”

“I think we're the smallest team out there. We get no donations. We don't ask for any donations. We spend hours upon hours out of care and love. Because once you start helping you can't walk away - because there's too many people that need help.”

One of pet theft's biggest problems is that the law simply isn’t clear. Pet theft currently falls under the Theft Act 1968 - meaning pets, when stolen, are property, not living things. Many police departments see pet theft as a civil matter and not something they can get involved in - even when the pet is microchipped.

According to Gather Cover, a pet insurance site, there has been a 39% rise in pet thefts recorded by the Metropolitan Police in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. 

That’s why people like Lisa and her team at Muddy Paws Crime are so important - they are in constant contact with pet owners and police and dog wardens, working as the go-between to try and reunite families with their furry friends. They follow leads, doing everything they can to track down real information about the missing animals.

On top of all the work they do, they are providing emotional support for these owners, who are grieving for their loved one.

“We have a small team. We have over 50 Facebook groups that we administer for stolen pets in the UK and we've opened up to Ireland as well, because Ireland doesn't get enough help at all,” says Lisa. “With those groups also comes 50 odd group chats with owners, where we offer them emotional support.” 

Lisa and the rest of her team at Muddy Paws Crime are calling for change; better restrictions on online dog sales and breeding, better licenses for rescue centres, and firmer laws around pet theft. Without charities like Muddy Paws Crime, so many families would not have been reunited with their pets - it’s thanks to the tireless work people like Lisa, who even use their own money to pay fines.

“Muddy Paws Crime have been totally amazing with everything after my girl echo was stolen, I didn’t have a clue what to do or how to act. They offered me advice and guidance and was beside me through every thing.” said Shayla Pearman, in a review of Muddy Paw Crimes on Facebook. “PLEASE if you lose a dog reach out to Muddy Paws Crime. I can’t rate them high enough they brought our family together.”

Despite all the stress and sadness of missing pets, Muddy Paws Crime is ultimately a positive story - one about normal people, who simply want to make our world a better place. Because they are such a small team, they are always in need of help - in need of other people who care.

If you’re passionate about ending pet thefts and reuniting families with their beloved pets, get in contact with Lisa Loop, the Director of Muddy Paws Crime, through their Facebook page. 

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Born Free. This is a wildlife conservation charity that’s passionate about wild animal welfare and Compassionate Conservation. Find out more here.

Four Paws UK. This charity is an animal welfare organisation, working globally to help animals in need. Learn more here.

RSPCA. This is the leading animal welfare charity in the UK. They specialise in animal rescue & furthering the welfare cause for all animals. Find out more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs