Monday, January 3, 2011

Pit Bulls and Parolees

Tia Torres of Animal Planet's Pit Bulls and Parolees
I stumbled upon a show on Animal Planet, it's called Pit Bulls and Parolees.
As most of you know I am a huge animal lover. My main weakness is dogs, especially ones that have been given a bum rap in life through abuse or neglect.  They are defenseless little creatures and none of them ever asked for what life dealt them. So then, there is pit pulls, who I feel are misunderstood from the get go. Combine the misunderstanding about the breed and sprinkle in rescued abused pit bulls with parolees and you have a great reality series concept. This series had me  at woof!!
The show is set around one very strong lady named Tia Torres who runs Villalobos Rescue Center, now the largest pit bull rescue facility in the country.
After learning about this woman I will never say I have had a tough life again because Tia really has had a tough life. She came from a broken home and experienced a tumultuous childhood. She longed for a family of her own from very early on and eventually began to adopt neighborhood dogs and stray cats.  Multiple marriages have ended with her husbands being sent off to prison.
Despite all of her struggles, she has always wanted to help others. She entered the Army with hopes of helping other people as a gang counselor. That is where she met one of her husbands. Unfortunately, he was a drug addict and ended up in prison. Wow, I would have never seen that coming.
After this marriage broke up it was scary going out on her own with approximately 100 pit bulls to care for and as a single mother, a positive change took place. During a rescue that concerned a dog whose owner was involved in a criminal case, Tia stumbled upon Web sites that advertised "prison pen pals." Tia spotted a man whose photo hypnotized her and she met husband #3.  (Do you notice a pattern here? Hello. ) She said he looked like a modern-day vampire, yet there was something gentle and kind about his photo. But then again, don't all ex-convict vampires have a gentle side - just sayin'?
The journey to save pit bulls was a rough one for Tia as pit bulls were in the news every week as public enemy number one. Tia worked feverishly trying to earn a reputable reputation saving the most maligned type of dog in the world. In March of 1999, things finally changed in her favor.
A pit bull attack on a two-year-old child prompted a city-wide panic. Hundreds of pit bulls were turned into shelters, let loose on the streets and some were even found tortured and tossed out like garbage. The shelters couldn't cope with the number of pit bulls being turned in, so they turned to Tia for help. After meeting with city officials, Tia created the Pit Bull Support Group, which combined free obedience classes, spaying and neutering, medical assistance and training seminars. Her goal was to restore a sense of calm in LA and let people know that their beloved pets were not going to turn on them. Having successfully launched this effort, Tia finally felt she made a true difference. Shelters from around the country asked her to speak as a pit bull expert and cities began to implement the same type of program and became proactive.
Tia eventually married that convict. Husband #3. Together they realized how difficult it was for parolees to succeed in this society. So, they came up with the idea of employing parolees to work at Villalobos Rescue Center.
In 2006, with the help of her family, Tia built a program called The Underdawgz, which serves as an entity within the Villalobos Rescue Center. The Underdawgz pairs parolees and pit bulls — both men and dogs nobody else wants. The parolees feed the dogs, clean the kennels and learn how to train the pit bulls in preparation for adoption.
Each day is a battle, but Tia finds conviction in her mission to turn society's trash into treasure and by the dogs who work their magic on the "baddest" good guys in town.
Ok, maybe her skills to pick out a wholesome clean-cut guy for marriage material could use a little work, who cares? I think she has a heart of gold and there is a special place in heaven for Tia.
Some day I plan on visiting her rescue and meeting Tia. I know I have also decide to try to help support her in any way I can. She really touched my heart and I am in awe of how she just always keeps picking herself up and going on despite what life throws at her....I think she is part pit bull. I mean that in a very good way.

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