Ever since my fur-nephew Dexter stayed with us for a few months, pit bulls and pit mixes references have popped out of nowhere! Maybe I see them more now that I have my own pittie mix, but it is clear that there is a push nationwide to fight the stigma of the breed. In Ohio, breed specific legislation has been overturned to give more pitbulls a chance at a happy home. Other states have followed suit, while the rest recommit to avoid laws that would remove beloved pets from their families.
BarkPost has gone above and beyond to showcase stories of pit bull love and triumph against these cases of discrimination and abuse that have given the breed a bad name. Michael Vick has started to lobby in Congress to help save pitties in dire fighting ring situations. Even when these dogs have been abused and neglected, they refuse to treat all people as hostile; they shower their rescuers with love, wiggly butts and slobbery kisses! Many police precincts are allowing pit bulls to train as K-9 officers and some service dog organizations have successfully trained the breed to help with anxiety and affective disorder behaviors. The bandwagon is getting bigger and bigger by the minute! And here’s one of the reasons why: Pit Bulls and Parolees.
Animal Planet started to follow Tia Maria Torres and her Villalobos Rescue Center staff back in 2009 when they were still located in Los Angeles County. In 2012, and after 20 years in California, Tia and her family moved to New Orleans where their rescue animal count has increased up to 300 residents! What makes the center stand out is that Ms. Torres decided to hire mainly parolees to fill the needs of the operation. It is the ex-cons who walk the dogs, take care of cleaning and setting up the kennels, complete maintenance repairs, and assist in rescues and adoptions. Alongside Tia’s family, daughters Tania and Mariah and twin sons, these parolees make sure that the dogs are well taken care of and loved, showing the world both stereotypes can thrive in a loving and judgment free environment. The show and the team are all about second chances, especially for the misunderstood American Pit Bull Terriers and mixes.
Now at Season 7, Villalobos Rescue Center is busier than ever. Even though their mission is to “rescue pit bulls until they don’t have to”, the social change needed to have more successful adoptions and more responsible or legislated dog breeding (cracking down on puppy mills for example) is still lagging behind, making the rescue and training efforts even harder. They, and every shelter and rescue organization in the country, need our support to stop animal abuse and promote responsible ownership. Even if you can’t quite perceive it during the aired material, if you check out their website, and follow their facebook page, you will get a behind the scenes look at all that they must accomplish to keep their facilities open, and how hard and costly it is for them to keep their dogs safe and their staff employed. The good news is you can help by donating, spreading the word or adopting. 😀
After watching the show and seeing first hand what Rescue Pup has done for our boy Z, I have a new found respect and admiration for the rescuers, volunteers, trainers, walkers and veterinarians that do everything in their power to ensure the animals’ safety and well being. Breaking the perception of the fighting, rabid and aggressive pit bull breed is a very difficult but gratifying task; I am eternally grateful for all the people that have made possible our time with Zach and Dexter.
For those of you still wondering why people care about pit bulls, please note that any dog breed can be reactive or have a genetic disposition to become aggressive. Animal behavior professionals have found that common house dogs tend to be even more aggressive or reactive to other dogs and unless socialized properly, they may bite or attack others. Do not go into adopting a pet thinking a particular breed behaves best around adults, kids or pets. Dogs, like people, have different temperaments and personalities that can deviate from the average breed sample. Because of this, check with local shelters and rescue organizations before buying from a breeder or a store. Your best friend might be in a death row situation and you could save their life! We saved out little guy from that fate and I am blessed to have had such an excellent group of people hustling to get Z to a loving home. The world is a better place because of all my baby’s angels. 🙂
The show airs on Saturdays at 9pm/10pm local time. They accept out of state adoption applications if you do not have another dog or pet already in the household. Take a gander at their adoption roster and check out the episode in which they were rescued. Even my husband’s heart melts when he sees a happy ending to one of the show’s regulars. Keep a tissue box handy.