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Pit bulls and parolees on Animal Planet

tiatorresandfriend1What do you get when you bring together 225 pit bulls, 204 volunteers, the woman to your left in the flowing white dress and six recent prison parolees on a ranch in the canyons of southern California?

A reality show, of course.

Tia Maria Torres, 49, started Villalobos Rescue Center – the largest pit bull rescue in the United States – 14 years ago. Three years ago, she began taking in ex-cons, including her prison pen pal Aren Marcus Jackson, a tattoo artist who would become her second husband.

According to an Associated Press report, the rescue has tried some novel fund-raising approaches in the past, including opening a brothel — a legal, Nevada one —  but it burned down. Now Torres, it seems, is turning to an even shadier source for funding — the reality show.

Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees” will debut next month.

Producer Michael “MikeyD” Dinco was a student in a pit bull class Torres taught years ago. Intrigued by the combination of pit bulls and parolees, he decided to pitch the reality show idea to the network. 

Torres said the show will help cover the $20,000 in monthly bills, including a ton of dog food a week, as well as its $25,000 vet tab. The rescue is located on 17 acres of rugged terrain in Canyon Country.

The television show will focus on the interaction of the dogs and men. “The dogs bring out the best in these guys,” Torres said. 

Torres grew up a in an a upper-middle class family, but fell into the gang life. That led to six years in the Army, followed by work as a youth counselor in Los Angeles. After 13 years in social services, she started training animals for the film industry before opening the shelter.


Comment from jaque
Time August 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

i’ll watch every episode! i can’t wait!!

Comment from Bully Bob
Time August 21, 2009 at 8:24 am

Go Pit Bulls the most misunderstood breed in the world. I have adopted 3 and find they are great dogs… not for everyone but with a responsible owner they are a great dog.

Comment from Sara
Time August 22, 2009 at 5:11 am

For the good work she has done, I am wishing Torres great success in this endeavor. Over 200 power breed dogs in one location equals and lot of work and a long term commitment. I hope this leads to adoptions for her rescues.

Comment from Vi
Time August 24, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Finally! We filmed an episode of our dog’s (Uggi) adoption for this show! can’t wait to finally see it on the air!

Comment from Vi
Time September 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I spoke with Tia and one of the producers recently they have pushed back the premiere date of the show to November 9, although I still don’t know at what time.

Comment from svo
Time September 21, 2009 at 1:09 am

i’m dying for this show to start! my dog always stays at tia’s when we go out of town. i am so glad there is someone like her out there to help these awesome dogs–and i’m so glad she’s going to be getting some recognition (and hopefully $$$$$$$$) for what she’s been doing!

Comment from Vi
Time October 25, 2009 at 4:47 am

Pk…Update on the premiere date! They have now pushed the prmiere date to October 30th @ 10PM! The episod tat My husband and I (and our dog Uggi) will air on November 6th @ 10PM!

Comment from Vi
Time October 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

now another update. The episode that we filmed for this show will actually air November 6 @ 10:00 pm. Wow…I am incredibly nervous about this!

Comment from Megan
Time October 30, 2009 at 1:13 am

I just wanted to write and let this woman Tia know that I think she is doing a wonderful thing. Me and my boyfriend have always wanted to start a pitbull rescue, but $$$$$ is not there. Not many people give parolee’s a 2nd chance. And they really deserve it. My boyfriend was a parolee, but unfortunatley he went back. Keep up the good work! You have a lot of fans!!!!

Comment from josette
Time October 30, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Why is camp bow wow a sponsor? They don’t allow pitbulls in their camp cause it is a franchize from Utah where no one likes pitbulls!

Comment from Justin Lingle
Time October 31, 2009 at 1:35 am

I saw your show on tv and I love what your doin! Im a pitbull lover to the fullest and if theres anything I can do to help please let me know.

Comment from Denise
Time November 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

I watched the show on 10/30/09 and it is great! I love what they are doing with the Pit Bulls and the men. Goes to show not all Pit Bulls are bad and not all Parolees are bad. Taking care of two bad raps at once. Love it!

Comment from Betsy
Time November 7, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I love the show and it broke my heart all the crap Tia has to go thru just trying to get her innocent husband home. You all are in my prayers. God Bless you all for doing such a wonderful thing.

Comment from Cindy
Time November 10, 2009 at 7:02 am

I have been waiting for a Pit Bull Show for a LONG time. This breed is the most loyal out there. Among Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Border Collies, Great Danes and Cocker Spaniels, the American Pit Bull Terrier is currently documented as holding the highest rating in professionally-conducted canine behavioral evaluations by the ATTS- American Temperament Test Society. According to the ATTS, in Dec. 2008, 1235 pit bulls were tested for panic, unprovoked aggression and strong avoidance without recovery; 85% of the 1235 pit bulls passed where only 37.5% of Skye Terriers (“a family dog”) passed. It’s time that the Pit Bull breed is represented appropriately by responsible owners. After all, what do Rachel Ray, Jon Stewart, Jessica Biel, Michael J. Fox and San Diego’s own Charger LaDanian Tomlinson have in common? They all own pit bulls, following suit with the likes of Hellen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire and Thomas Edison, just to name a few… Well-known pit bulls in American history include Petey from the Little Rascals and Tige from Buster Brown shoe ads. A pit bull mix by the name of Sergeant Stubby helped save the lives of American soldiers during WWI and is one of the most decorated dogs in military history. Modern-day pit bull heroes work as therapy pets in hospitals, assisted-living facilities and schools, as well as search and rescue dogs during times of disaster. It’s such a shame that pit bulls make up nearly 50% of the homeless dogs in shelters throughout the country due to the false media statements and irresponsible owners; 2.5 million pit bulls get euthanized every year in the U.S. It’s time to represent the breed with our heads up and spread the word about the misconception of pit bulls. Help save a pit life!

Comment from joshua watson
Time November 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

i love to watch this show because it dealing with the porolees and showing they can do something good with there life and pitbulls are my favorite dogs also my uncle got two gator mouth pitbulls one name chopper and the other name is piru and i love to go see them alot so i think its great show to watch

Comment from jhon
Time November 10, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Hi, I saw your program on tv and found it extremely interesting. I have two on my own; a pittbull, and a bull master. I need to find a new home. I was wondering if you could help me.

Thank you,

Comment from Cindy
Time November 11, 2009 at 5:50 am

Hi John,
The best thing to do to find a place that takes Pit bulls is to go to your local pit bull rescue and ask them for listings, rescues tend to keep great track of landlords who allow this breed. Good Luck!

Comment from Madeline
Time November 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I just LUV this show. We have 2 pit bulls that my son rescued. I only wish there was a place for him to work here in NJ.
As he has no job but thinks he should rescue them all. We did find homes for 2 others.

Comment from michelle
Time November 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I just recently was able to watch one of your shows(dont watch alot of tv)and I find what you guys do to be simply amazing!!! I love dogs and especialy pits. I had one for almost 8 years and had to put him down about a year ago(that was one of the hardest things ive ever done)he was like my first kid! Buster Brown was his name and he was the gentelest soul youde ever see. I love that you give the bully breed a second chance at life!!What you do is insparational!
See Buster almost died on me from parvo, however, he had his shots so I was able to save him with a week of ivs. He was a fighter! Then shortly after that he started his fight with allergies and ear infections. But he was happy and well taken care of until the end. just last year.
He was even great with my son. I hope that what you are doing will help change the way society looks at the bully. And animal cruilty all together.
God bless, Michelle Maes

Comment from lala
Time November 24, 2009 at 1:28 am

I love your show now this is reality show. I love that it is helping with the shelter not other realitys. please dont change like all this other reality shows I dont want to see you wasting your money on high heels and boob jobs. smile I lovwe what you are doing

Comment from Josh
Time December 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

Tia love your show. I’ve been rescuing pitbulls for six years now. Glad to see someone else take it as serious as i do. I specialize in this breed because not many people want to. Pitbulls are the most misunderstood breed. We must rise up and save this breed before the haters destroy them. Thank you Tia for what you are doing.

Comment from Paula
Time October 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Hey Guys! I just wanted to remind everyone that Pit Bulls & Parolees’ second season premieres tonight on Animal Planet at 10pm! I love Tia and what she’s doing and want to support her however I can! Also, for those of you who want to get to know her a little better, there’s an amazing interview with her at http://www.kougarmagazine.com where she really goes into her life and the struggles she’s had to overcome to get to where she now. Go Tia!!! 🙂

Comment from Faye Florence
Time November 7, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I love your tv show. I watch it every week. I worked at kennel for 13 years. I love animals. especially dogs. I would train dogs only for obendice. I really admire you for you sacrifice and of time and money,you are doing the most
rewarding service that anyone could do. Keep up your good work with the dogs and men. Best wishes and prayers. Faye Florence

Comment from megan
Time December 19, 2010 at 3:05 am

Hey I just wanted to tell you that I think you are doing ga great thing for pit bulls. Yes they are the number one breed of dog that is misunderstood. But most importantly I was wondering how I go about adopting one of your pits. See I have two sons one is 1 and the other is two. We had a dalmation and pit mixed that my father had gave us but, I had to but her down because she had got pregnant way two mant times that I thought this litter was going to kill her so I thought I was doing the best thing by putting her down. I never want to go through something like that again so now i am looking for a male. So hopefully I will hear something from you soon. Thanks so much for your time.

Comment from sarahroberts
Time December 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm

hi my name is sarah roberts i am 22 years old and i have been in and out of jail for like the past year…. i have been watching your show for as longe as i can remember lol….and it showing me that there is a 2nd chance for everyone and all the pit’s that u have there …i have alway’s wanted a 2nd chane in life….i have been down a tuff road my hole life and seeing the men that work with u that willing to change there life’s while helping out the pit’s ….. i wish there was something that i can do but can’t get a job because i have 2 felonily charges over my head rite know and i wish i could change that but the mistakes i made have to pay prise rite i want to become something in life ….i wish u guy’s where where i am so i could join the grop effert to help the pit’s …. they are my kind of dog’s and wish i could take them all and have a ranch to let them run free like the wind ….if i could i movie to where u are and help u out with al my heart….

Comment from kadrian
Time January 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm

can i adpot one

Comment from Pitbull Puppies
Time May 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Great show, and the cast are great people. Seen them at a few dogs shows I been to.

Comment from Ashley Jackson
Time October 27, 2011 at 8:18 am

Hey my name is Ashley Jackson im 18 years old…. I have been raising pitbulls since i was about 8 years old…. They are my favorite breed of dogs… Most people dont trust them including some of my family members in the past years but i have changed a few of their minds about pitbulls. I am really ready to watch your show.. I have watched all the episodes of pitboss with Shorty and the crew. I wish i could do more to help pitbulls like you and shorty does.. But ima keep working on it. You never give up on something you Love or Love doing. And its really wrong when people fight pitbulls thats what make them aggressive.. But i have had a few that i have rescued that were faught, i just worked with them because i dont give up. I hope your show is a success because im ready to see it!!!!

Comment from skylar
Time November 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm

i love what tia is doing to help the breed of pitbull im 12 years old and i plan to open a pitbull rescue when i grow up i wish i could meet shorty and tia they re doing a wonderful thing i also have 2 pitbulls bootes and bear

Comment from Sylvester
Time March 11, 2013 at 10:17 am

We all need to give Tia a round of applause for what she represents for the Pitbull breed. I’m amazing at what she does for the dogs and men. I love the show.

Comment from chelsy
Time November 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

you are awesome I love your show I only watched it a few times but you made me happy you are the best

Comment from ??????
Time November 4, 2013 at 10:16 am

I want a pitbull but how do you get one from pitbulls and paroles will the people come to you if you pick out a pitbull

Comment from Anonymous
Time May 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

Dogs need your help in Maryland..shelter closeing.dogs will be put down..please just take a look what’s going on there.thank you.