Tia Maria Torres
Villalobos Rescue Center
Tia Maria Torres created the largest, most successful Pit Bull rescue in the country, starting from nothing, and now rescues not just all breeds, but people as well.
Tia Maria Torres is a veteran of "wars," a survivor in the truest sense of the word, and a positive role model for those working to overcome a difficult past and a "bad rap." She started and continues to manage the largest, most successful Pit Bull Rescue in the country, literally from nothing.
Tia grew up without her biological mother and father and was raised by her stepmother, from whom she gained her love of, and generosity toward, animals. At the age of 17, Tia left home with her entourage of animals, including horses, a goat, and a dog. She struggled financially and was homeless at times, but always provided for her four-legged companions. She served 6 years in the United States Army. After completing her military service, she became a youth gang counselor in Los Angeles. Tia survived marriages involving alcohol abuse and domestic violence and raised two beautiful daughters, who now help her run the rescue. Additionally, she adopted twin sons from another difficult family situation and they now help run the rescue, too. After marrying an ex-convict, Aren Jackson, Tia began employing parolees, giving them a second chance when others would not. Unfortunately, her husband was unjustly incarcerated and Tia is now continuing her passionate life mission without her partner.
Tia moved her rescue from California to New Orleans after California changed their requirements for rescues (actually requiring her kennels to be smaller!). Because she had been actively involved in rescuing four-legged survivors of Hurricane Katrina, she knew the need for help there. Tia now rescues not just Pit Bulls, but all breeds and mutts from desperate situations in Louisiana and across the country. She has created programs to rescue "swamp dogs" in rural areas and to network with animal abuse advocates in saving dogs in other states. She advocates for spay/neuter programs, better training and support for pet guardians, and programs to help troubled families, youth, and adults. She is a stellar advocate for public education and, despite her "private" nature, has opened her life to spectators of her television show "Pit Bulls and Parolees." She has made these sacrifices not just for the lost souls she personally rescues, but to educate and motivate others to make a positive difference. Her shows and her life have demonstrated her commitment to non-judgmentally and tirelessly serving both people and animals. She, humbly, does not consider herself a hero, but she is exactly that.