Tia, along with daughters Tania and Mariah run Villalobos, a rehabilitation and placement center which houses hundreds of abused and abandoned dogs of all breeds.
Tia Torres longed for a family of her own when she was just a child growing up in Southern California. Tia began taking in the neighborhood dogs and strays at an early age due to her tumultuous childhood in a broken home. She had no father figure in her life, so her mom taught her that the loyalty of an animal companion is all you need. At age 17, Tia left home with an entourage of pets and even ended up homeless, sleeping in her van or horse trailer.
Tia went on to join the Army and became a truck driver, then went on to work for the City of Los Angeles as a youth gang counselor, this line of work made her even more interested in working with those who walked the fine line between the law and breaking it. Following this she worked in the housing projects and drug houses which ultimately led her into a career of working with parolees.
Tia has two daughters, Tania and Mariah who have been a great support for her. After meeting her future dog “Tatanka” at the Los Angeles Animal Shelter, Tia’s love for animals would come full circle. Wolves and Pit Bulls were portrayed as society’s cast off canines in full force, and Tia went on fighting to prove that they are gentle and loving animals. Tia created “The Pit Bull Support Group” with the Los Angeles City Animal Services which provided services to anyone who owned a Pit Bull or Pit Mix. Tia hired a young man who had recently been released from prison, he would be her first official parolee hire and she even took in twin teenage boys who needed guidance, then she eventually adopted these boys known as Kanani and Moe saving them from an unsuitable home life.
Villalobos Rescue Center was not just a rescue for dogs, but it was quickly turning into a rescue for humans as well. However, after Villalobos was on the brink of shutting down in Los Angeles, Tia made the decision in 2010 to move the entire Villalobos Rescue Center to New Orleans.
Tia’s oldest daughter Tania faced a lot of tragedy as a child, yet shares the same love for animals as her mom. In her late teens, Tania was an assistant animal trainer in the film industry. She would find herself in such places as the Mongolian desert with a pack of wolves, or the jungles of Costa Rica with the entire animal cast of “The Jungle Book.”
Tania has remained the constant in Tia’s life, Tania and her siblings found themselves as permanent fixtures at Villalobos, the largest pit bull rescue in the country. She is also the author of “Lulu & Clementine”, a children’s book inspired by one of her dogs, Lulu, and beloved daughter, Salem-Wolf.
Mariah was born into the pit bull world and got her first pit bull L.A. when she was big enough to hold a leash. Growing up, she was very spirited. She was always happy to get dirty with the dogs and yet always cleaned up in time to successfully compete in beauty pageants.
Mariah is a natural at public speaking, at just eight years old she spoke in front of the LA City Commission, the mayor and hundreds of people at a meeting about spray/neuter laws. She continues to speak about the rights of the breed, the evils of dog fighting, and the undeserved pit bull stereotype. Outside of the rescue, Mariah helps manage the family’s various businesses, including the Tahyo Tavern restaurant and Tahyo Dog Boutique.
At Discovery, we power the passions that make us human. Unfortunately, many people lack the opportunity to pursue those passions in their everyday life. That’s why we’re working with @savethechildren to Reduce Inequality and Support Empowerment for underserved populations across the globe. This International Women’s Day join us to #PowerPeoplesProgress by donating at DiscoveryRISE.org.