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Pit Bulls and People                                                                                    

I love dogs. In my choice of pets, the canines have my first vote. Small, medium, large, it matters not. Some of the large ones, I will admire from the distance. If encouraged, a little pat on the head, a little scratch behind the ear but I love dogs.

I guess that’s why the programme Pit Bulls and Parolees on the Animal Planet channel interests me so much. The concept behind the show I find to be noble and although it is said that foreigners show more care and concern for their animals than they do for humans, the show to me, showcases the efforts being made to give chances to both.

Each episode begins with the main individual saying, “My name is Tia Maria Torres. I have spent the last 20 years giving second chances to the world’s most misunderstood breed of dogs, and to parolees no one is willing to hire. Here in the city of second chances, New Orleans, my mission is to rescue, and my hope is that one day I won’t have to.”

Tia Maria, along with her children and ex-convicts run an institution, Villa Lobos Rescue Centre in New Orleans, where the dogs, especially Pit Bulls, are rescued and given a chance to be treated, rehabilitated and are adopted out to families who need dogs for one reason or the other.

Through the social network, dogs eligible for adoption are advertised. It is amazing that people drive thousands of miles to see and choose a dog, and more amazing is the fact that the team from Villa Lobos pay home visits to potential owners to ensure that the dogs are going to be placed in suitable environments.

I enjoy viewing the rescue efforts, the care and consideration given by Tia Maria and her team when treating with the dogs. It is obvious that from the years of doing this, they have developed skills and strategies geared towards obtaining the best results.

It is really intriguing to view the rescue operations and listen to the ex-convicts give testimonies as to how working at Villa Lobos gave them the incentive to change their lives. They are all passionate about their duties, and to see the response of the dogs to them is really amazing.

One episode which had a deep impact on me, dealt with a pit bull which was used by the owners as a ‘bait dog’, that is, one used as the proverbial punching bag to encourage the other dogs to viciously attack and fight. Covered with bites and infected holes, bloodied and bruised, it was abandoned. Someone called Villa Lobos who rescued it. While treating the wounds, Tia declared that the dog needed prayers and hope to live.

Suddenly, it began to lick (kiss) Tia all over her face which made her say, “Despite the ill treatment, the dog still loved people.” In our society, there are many persons who are used as punching bags, being verbally, sexually and physically abused, with those returning to the community after being incarcerated. Kindness, concern and forgiveness are not easily rendered to them.

My thoughts went to Jesus Christ our Saviour, who despite all the ill treatment, asked the Father’s forgiveness for His tormentors and loved us even more to entrust His mother, Mary to the beloved apostle (who represents all of us).

As we continue on this journey through Lent, our reflection and introspection should open us to ways we can be more compassionate, considerate, loving and forgiving to each other. In so doing, we will be fulfilling the commands of our Lord who has given us the mandate to be our brother’s keeper.