Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pit Bulls and Parolees




Pit Bulls and Parolees is a can't miss show for me. For those who don't watch, it features the happenings around the Villalobos Rescue Center, the United States' largest pit bull animal shelter with approximately 150 to 200 dogs, run by founder Tia Maria Torres. Pit Bulls and Parolees depicts the day-to-day operations at Villalobos, including rescues of abused, neglected, and abandoned dogs, and the Center's efforts to adopt out dogs to new owners. The show also depicts the interactions between Tia, her daughters Tania and Mariah (who help run the shelter), and Villalobos' staff of volunteers and employees, many of whom are parolees, as referenced in the show's title.

Tia Torres is my hero. She has faced such adversity-both personal and professional-but it's only made her stronger, more dedicated to spending her life rescuing the most unfairly villified of dog breeds.

Tia's house is full of rescued animals other than pitties as well. She even has a cattery with exclusively black cats! Earlier this season an episode featured Tia's youngest daughter Mariah having to make the heartwrenching decision to put her beloved rescue dog to sleep. The camera pulled away as the euthanasia room's door shut, revealing a Rainbow Bridge sign. In the next scene mother and daughter collapsed in each other's arms.

Every show features a memorable rescue, but the episode I watched last night (Season 3, Episode 8) will stay with me for a long time. Tia's dog trainer Louise got word of a 14 year old mastiff in the pound-abandoned by his owner. Wracked with arthritis, it was a struggle to load him into Tia's van. He couldn't even bend to drink water from a bowl. They named him Alessandro, meaning warrior, and moved him into Louise's home. But very soon he would howl in pain whenever left alone, and the vet said nothing could be done to control his pain. The decision was made for the vet to put him down in Louise's living room, to spare him the painful trip to the vet. But first Tia and Louise made him a huge dinner of hamburgers, to give him one last special moment on earth. My heart broke into a million pieces as I watched these brave, compassionate women holding each other and crying after he was gone. He could've died in a shelter cage, but in his last days they showed him love and gave him a dignified death.

This show reminds me that in a world filled with unspeakable violence, suffering, and cruelty, there are incredibly wonderful people out there too. And anyone who rescues an animal is a hero in my eyes.



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