First, there was Lil Olive. Rescued from a Missouri puppy mill at age 12½, the physically battered dog finally found a home with Pam Horton in Colorado Springs a couple of years later. Amazed by both the breadth of Lil Olive’s abuse and the depth of her courage, Pam started sharing the dog’s story on social media.
Among her early followers was Ashley Schuermann, also of the Colorado Springs area. Before long, Ashley convinced husband Pete to adopt their own rescued “iggy,” named Lola. While a decade younger than Lil Olive, Lola had serious mill scars of her own. In fact, for six months she rarely emerged from under the Schuermanns’ dining room table.
Watching her struggle led Pete, a filmmaker and dog lover, to believe that perhaps he had come across his next topic for a documentary: the work of mill dog rescues. With Ashley’s support, he went to work. Along the way, he reached out to Pam and shot some footage of Lil Olive — thinking that he could add it to a much larger pool of possible subjects and storylines.
Then, after six months, the original project fell apart. Disheartened and with no obvious way forward, Pete iced all the footage and walked away from it for months. It wound up being Pam, a relative novice in film, who came back around and explained to Pete that he already had the grist of something great. After all, he had shot it in her house.
A Voice for Lil Olive was born, and before long 1,600-plus Indiegogo contributors backed Pam’s assessment. On the strength of a three-minute trailer, the Lil Olive campaign raised more than $95,000 — placing it among Indiegogo’s Top 10 most-funded documentaries of 2016, and supercharging filmmaking efforts.
It also convinced Pete and Ashley that they should create a more permanent mechanism to empower change-hungry animal lovers. SitStaySpeakOut is that mechanism.
Thanks to this nonprofit, the 2017 premiere of A Voice for Lil Olive will mark the beginning of an ongoing campaign, one that brings people together to rally for the humane treatment of all companion animals.