Mediaplanet: What motivated you to become involved in dog rescue?

Tia Torres: I visited an animal shelter with my two daughters back in the ’90s. A pit bull broke free from a kennel worker and started to bolt toward us. The dog knocked Mariah and Tania to the floor and proceeded to smother their faces with kisses. I ended up adopting this dog and named her Tatanka. She became a vital part of our family. This experience prompted the birth of Villalobos Rescue Center, and my personal journey to rescue and be the voice of this breed.

Mediaplanet: What advice do you have for new dog owners?

MP: Do misconceptions about pit bulls and similar breeds make that journey a struggle?

TT: Breed discrimination is a big challenge for us, but we hope that “Pit Bulls & Parolees” is helping change those misconceptions. I also travel the country with my “P” Word Tour, where I give talks and answer questions about pit bulls. Events like this really help spread our message and allow us to engage with the animal community on a local level.

MP: How has Pit Bulls & Parolees” created awareness around pet adoption?

TT: Having a national television show certainly helps bring awareness to the pit bull breed and the importance of pet adoption. However, we’re now receiving more calls and stray animals than ever before. People tie dogs up to our gate, leave them in cages and crates under the bridge near our facility on a weekly basis.

There is no way for us to physically and financially keep taking all of these dogs. Having a TV show does not mean we have unlimited resources and can sometimes be a curse due to our high profile status. People sometimes expect us to wave a magic wand and fix their problems and, sadly, we just can’t.

MP: Throughout your show, we’ve seen you do home checks for potential adopters. Why is that an important part of the process?

TT: It’s very important to conduct home checks not only for the animals, but for the adoptees as well, especially if they already have another pet. We’re providing a new lease on life for these animals and we need to make sure that they are going into the right home with the right people.

MP: What is the biggest message that you want viewers to walk away with?

TT: Potential adopters need to do their research and realize that pet adoption is a major life event. If you adopt, you’re in for the long haul. There’s no excuse for not caring and raising a pet in a loving manner. Your life will change significantly—for the better—but only if you put in the work.