Hampstead actress launches Wikileaks style app to fight animal cruelty
12:12 09 March 2014
An actress is set to launch the very first “Wikileaks-style” website and app focused on fighting the rise of animal abuse in the UK.
Stage and screen actress Heidi Mumford said she was so shocked to hear about “puppies being buried alive”, “cats being put in microwaves” and “dogs being beaten to death with baseball bats” that she decided to create Ethical Pup, a new whistleblowing charity to help overstretched animal welfare organisations.
The Hampstead resident’s new app and sister website will allow people to report abuse as it happens and to securely and quickly send images or videos direct to the relevant authorities.
The initiative has drawn the attention of RSPCA bosses, who met Ms Mumford on Tuesday at their HQ in Horsham.
The Heath Street resident said there’s “a clear need” for the service.
“I got fed up with feeling helpless and distressed by every report of animal abuse I was reading and seeing. So rather than sitting and crying about it, I decided to get out and do something,” she said.
“Reading about Wildleaks [a new site allowing whistleblowers to report wildlife crimes] really inspired me and after a bit of research I discovered there is no intuitive software platform in the UK devoted exclusively to helping people report animal abuse and neglect.
“In the United States, yes, but not here.
“Having two dogs of my own and having fostered from shelters, I can think of no better way of protecting those unable to protect themselves. Animals have no voice but we do.”
According to recent figures a call is made to the RSPCA every 30 seconds to report animal cruelty.
More than 150,000 complaints of neglect are investigated each year by the charity and the number of people found guilty of neglect in England and Wales rose by 33 per cent in 2012.
A recent abuse case sees a young woman from Barnsley set to be sentenced next week after a court heard how she had put her four-month-old kitten in the microwave for five minutes.
The cat was said to have been alive when it was taken out but “could not get its breath back” and died 90 minutes later.
Ms Mumford hopes her site will help lead to similar convictions and also bring those responsible for “behind closed-doors abuse” to account.
“People need to be held accountable for what are vile crimes,” she said. “I hope the project brings more convictions and awareness.
“Some people are scared about reporting abuse so I hope this service will go some way to solving that.”
Ms Mumford has turned to crowdfunding website Indiegogo to help raise the £5,000 needed to gain charity status. She also had support from partner and software developer Joseph Yeo.
n For more information – or if you would like to support the project – visit www.ethicalpup.org.