Tia Torres is an animal rescue specialist, and a television personality. She is best known as the host of the popular Animal Planet television series “Pit Bulls & Parolees”. She is the founder and owner of the United States’ largest pit bull rescue facility, Villalobos Rescue Centre.
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Tia Maria Torres was born on 11 June 1960, in Southern California, USA. Being a US citizen, there is no information about her parents’ origin and thus her descent is unknown, but likely Mexican. What is known to the public is that she comes from a middle-class family, and that her parents split up during her early childhood, which was quite rough. Not long after her parents divorced, Torres’ mother passed away, and the girl grew up with a step-mother. While raising Tia, the woman was taking care of a menagerie of animals all by herself, teaching the girl a great deal of discipline and morals.
Torres developed a special bond and a great mother-daughter relationship with her, as the woman was her sole parental figure, and a good role model. Speaking about Torres’ educational background, there are no details disclosing it.
Love for animals
According to Torres, her passion for animals was developed within the aforementioned relationship with her step-mother, with whom she shared the love for animals and who taught the girl that animals should be well kept and treated. So the young Tia Torres took in neighbourhood strays, dogs and cats, and also became fond of horses. Even when she left home at the age of 17, she left taking her multiple pets with her, even her two horses, facing many difficulties moving around with the animals, but this didn’t stop her helping other endangered animals and strays she encountered. There were times when she had to spend nights in her van or horse trailer with her pets, which shows that life was quite tough for the girl.
During this time, Torres encountered other challenges as well. She became a member of a gang, which resulted in many encounters with the police – one time she was almost shot. Fortunately, she soon quit this kind of life, and started to pave her way towards a decent career.
Tia joined the army, in which she attended a truck driving school, soon becoming a driver for infantry troops. She stayed in the army for six years.
Youth gang counsellor
Upon completing her service, Torres returned to Los Angeles, where she became involved in a programme for the rehabilitation of young gang members, resolving their troubles in a peaceful, non-violent way.
Serving as a youth gang counsellor, she was working with those walking a fine line between the law and breaking it, visiting them and their families and offering them counselling.
Realizing that she still wanted to pursue her passion for animals, Torres began to rescue wolves, and eventually established a shelter called Villalobos (Spanish term for town of wolves) in Agua Dulce, California, for wolves and wolf hybrids. One day she adopted a pit bull and it was the love towards this dog that roused her interested in this breed, which eventually resulted in a life changing opportunity for her. According to Torres, she happened to be visiting a local shelter, when a female pit bull appeared with animal control officers taking her into the shelter – the dog was a survivor of a drug deal gone bad. Before being put into a kennel, it ran and began racing through the shelter until it came to Torres’ two toddler daughters licking and playing with the girls.
It was love at first sight and the family immediately wanted to take the dog home. At the time, Los Angeles County did not adopt-out this breed, but upon Torres’ petition the council relentedt. This is how it all started and how Torres’ love for animals came full circle. In 1999 her shelter became a rescue centre for rehabilitating lost, neglected, abused or abandoned dogs, especially pit bulls, called Villalobos Rescue Centre. It was created by Torres teaming up with the Los Angeles City Animal Services, forming “The Pit Bull Support Group”, a free service for people owning a pit bull. The group offered assistance and training, eventually growing into a big organization, and ultimately one of the largest pit bulls rescue faciliies in the country, running training seminars and classes as well as medical services. Initially a rescue for dogs, Villalobos Rescue Centre soon began taking in rescued humans as well.
WHO WANTS TO WORK FOR VRC?
We have several positions open for kennel attendants. Duties would include walking dogs, cleaning kennels and just showing lots of love to these dogs!
— Villalobos Rescue (@VRC_Pitbull) March 26, 2019
Torres first took in a young man who had recently been released from prison, then twin teenage boys whose home was not a proper environment for them to live in; Tia even adopted them. Then her husband, who was on parole at that time, brought more parolees through his parole agent. What was initially imagined to be a community service for parolees soon became a great program of these men, performing daily care training duties and dog rescue missions. Due to strict state laws making the Centre too expensive to run, Torres’ Villalobos Rescue Centre moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2011. Although the main facility is in New Orleans, Torres has established a number of satellite areas in the state.
“Pit Bulls and Parolees”
Torres’ operation brought her high popularity in the rescue community, and numerous fans worldwide. In 2009, she caught the eye of a hit Los Angeles magazine which dubbed her as one of the city’s “Most Important People”.
Few months later, her work with pit bulls and parolees caught the attention of reality television producers, who offered her the creation of a TV show that would depict her centre. Initially she was not interested in becoming a TV personality, but her centre was struggling for money, so she agreed. The show, called “Pit Bulls & Parolees” started on Animal Planet network, depicting Torres’ day to day operation in the centre, rescuing and rehabilitating pit bulls around the country. It attracted the attention of animal lovers around the world, with its mission to fight misconceptions about pit bulls and other similar breeds, as well as employing ex-convicts who are making their way back into society and honest employment. In addition to monitoring the daily duties of the shelter and the crew’s struggles to rescue and rehabilitate pit bulls, the show also depicts the happenings between Torres and her family members, as well as her employees.
In addition to boosting Torres’ popularity and net worth, the show has had a great impact on the dogs of the shelter, as it has increased both the adoptions and donations.
Film and television
Torres fame got her involved in the movie industry. She was hired as a professional trainer in handling wolves in the movie “Mowgli’s Story”, an adaptation of “The Jungle Book”. In addition, she was hired as cat trainer for the hit teen movie “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”. According to Torres, this was the most amazing thing of all the things she has done. Torres also appeared in “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, where she spoke about the challenging work of rescuing pit bulls.
Personal life, husband and kids
Torres is married to Aren Marcus Jackson. The couple met during the ‘80s while he was trying to track down the owner of a dog with Torres’ help. At the time, Jackson was being held in the California Penitentiary, sentenced on accumulated felonies. Regardless, the two became close and often exchanged letters. According to Torres, she was attracted to Jackson because he looked like a vampire, and she had a vampire fetish.
The two married when Jackson was released in 2006, appearing at their ceremony dressed as vampires. However, the following year Jackson was re-arrested and jailed again, for his involvement in a car theft. He is still serving time, but apparently they are still together.
Speaking about her children, Torres has two biological daughters Mariah Torres and Tania Torres, and two adopted sons Kanani and Keli’I of Hawaiian descent. According to sources, her first daughter’s father was an abusive and problematic gang member, while the father of her second daughter remains unknown to public. Following their mother’s steps, Torres’ children are also animal lovers, and thanks to the show, they have also become popular TV personalities.
Appearance, body measurement
The red-head Torres is 6ft 1in ((1.84m) tall, with a well-built body covered by numerous tattoos. Her weight and other body measurements are not known to public. She mostly wears sunglasses.
Torres’ net worth is estimated at around $300,000, as of late 2019. Most of her income comes from her TV career, her starring in the show “Pit Bulls and Parolees”. Although a significant portion of her wealth goes to the animal rescue foundation as Torres’ work is non-profit, the centre earns money from its adoption fees and various donations. It also sells its own clothing and jewellery line online. In addition, the centre earns from “Animal Planet” based on the number of viewers. All of this has brought Torres a decent regular income, allowing her to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle, if rather different.