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Second chances: Pit bulls get a new life

Pit bulls bred to fight get a new life a Villalobos Rescue Center

Posted: July 26, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Dog caretaker Steve Bruce plays with Tequila, a 4-year-old pit bull that was confiscated as evidence in a dogfighting raid and rescued by Villalobos Rescue Center in Acton.

Police found the 11 pit bulls in 2006, bred for fighting in a blood-spattered room in San Bernardino.

While the dogfighting ring's mastermind stood trial, ultimately accepting a plea bargain, they sat within the confines of a city shelter for 3 1/2 years.

Until last week.

Then authorities put them into the care of Tia Torres, whose Villalobos Rescue Center near Agua Dulce deals exclusively with pit bulls.

Torres said the dogs were found in horrid conditions, but the often-maligned breed is amazingly good-tempered and resilient.

"They're all scarred up," Torres said last week. "One went in there as a 2-month-old puppy. She's never been out of the shelter, yet she is acting like she's never had a care in the world."

The 11 pit bulls will join about 200 other dogs at the 10-acre rescue center in the high desert, Torres said.

The shelter's dogs are available for adoption.

Torres, who has spent much of her life caring for pit bulls, said the recently rescued dogs often tend to have a wonderful attitude.

"They're very happy-go-lucky friendly," she said. "It's very typical of fighting dogs. We get them in and they're so thankful. They're so appreciative.

"Actually, the fighting dogs we get in are friendlier than the owner turn-ins that were raised in a home."

In January 2006, the dogs' owner was arrested on suspicion of dogfighting and drug charges.

Albert Dean Cain Jr. took a plea deal last month and was sentenced to no jail time - just three years of probation.

During the trial, he refused to relinquish ownership of the dogs. Hence their confinement in a shelter since his arrest.

"The dogs did all his time for him," Torres said.

And the dogs aren't the only ones at Villalobos Rescue Center who have done time.

Villalobos is run entirely by parolees. Their stories will be told on a television show called "Pit Bulls and Parolees," set to air this fall on Animal Planet.

Torres laughed at the show's name, but later admitted it's actually sort of fitting:

"We're kind of a second-chance branch for pit bulls," she said. "Four-legged and two-legged pit bulls."


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