Villalobos Rescue, the focus of the Animal Planet series known as “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” was in the path of Hurricane Ida as it made landfall in Louisiana. The rescue center set up a GoFundMe campaign to help deal with the fallout of the category 4 storm. The rescue received tens of thousands in donations after the founder, Tia Torres, revealed that she was scared about what was going to happen from the storm. Here are the latest updates.
More Than $142,000 Has Been Donated to the GoFundMe After Torres Shared: ‘We Are Scared’
The rescue’s GoFundMe campaign, which initially had a $100,000 goal, raised more than $70,000 on August 29 and had raised more than $142,000 of a new $150,000 goal by the following day. Founder Tia Torres launched the GoFundMe and included a photo of her during Hurricane Isaac in 2012, which was only a category 1 hurricane.
She wrote on the GoFundMe that they were scared of how they would handle the damages that would come from the storm. She said they would likely be without power, unable to “hustle” for donations. In addition, they hadn’t been on TV since last April because of the pandemic, so they were already running low on funds.
Hurricane Ida will become the biggest battle VRC has ever had to face since moving to Louisiana. In California it was the wildfires and Santa Ana winds. And although we have been through other hurricanes since moving here in 2011 and flooding on a regular basis, Hurricane Ida coming in at a high end Category 4 hurricane will definitely test our strength.
Add to all of this, we have not filmed since last year, not been on TV since last April and have been struggling with donations due to the COVID pandemic. VRC is struggling….desperately.
We will not be able to sustain the expense of the predicted damages to come. Add to this, I/Tia Torres will not be able to continue “hustling” on a daily basis for donations, grants, fundraising, etc, because not only will we all be without power for quite awhile but we will be putting our lives back together for weeks to come.
We are not going to make it without all of you. I mean this from the heart. We are scared. Please help us.
The rescue’s website also has donation details online.
The Rescue’s 2 Locations Were in the Path of the Storm
The rescue has two locations, one in New Orleans and one in Assumption Parish. Both locations were in the path of the storm, the rescue shared on Facebook. The rescue later shared that the Assumption Parish jail and shelter dogs were safe and sound after being relocated to their office in Napoleonville.
In a Facebook Live around 10 a.m. on August 29, Torres shared that the rescue came to Louisiana knowing there were hurricanes, but needing to leave the wildfires.
“We left a land of wildfires,” she said. “It’s just a different natural disaster I guess. We’re not playing the victim here… So let me get that out of the way.”
She shared more details about why relocating their dogs is so difficult. They had relocated some dogs to Texas, but were limited in how many they could send. She said:
As far as the evacuation process, it’s not as easy as everybody thinks. The best way I can describe it is kind of like a Titanic. They saw the iceberg ahead and they tried to steer to get out of the way… We saw the iceberg a few days ago, but we have hundreds of dogs. You don’t just pack up and go like that. We would literally need an empty kennel facility with like 300 or so kennels, living quarters for all my employees… It’s very stressful on the dogs.
We did get some dogs out yesterday. I sent some of my employees that have young children and a vanload of dogs with them to Texas. The dogs were so stressed. They were so scared. And that’s what happens… It’s kind of like flipping a coin: what’s more stressful? … If we were to evacuate some dogs, that means I would have to take some employees to go with them. And then the employees left behind would not have the manpower they need. … There’s power in numbers. That’s why we’re sticking together…
She then revealed that there wasn’t enough space in New Orleans to bring all the Assumption Parish dogs.
“We have two locations,” she said. “One out here in Assumption Parish and we have New Orleans. People think we can pack up in Assumption Parish and move to the building in New Orleans. That’s not true. … We’re consolidating some of the locations in New Orleans and moving them into the new building.”
“We have obviously a lot of difficult dogs,” she added.
She explained that some are dog aggressive and some aren’t friendly. So that makes it more difficult to put everyone in one spot.
“Unfortunately, both of our places are going to get hit,” she shared.
The projected landfall location was very close to them, she added, and they expected to be out of power for some time after. She said they had very little income this year due to not being on TV, and adoptions were slower during the pandemic. Donations have kept them going.
‘We Are Going to Get Hurt,’ She Revealed
“We are going to get hurt,” Torres acknowledged. “We’re going to see some damage. We’re probably gonna be without power for a while. So I’m trying to figure out what to do as far as getting dogs somewhere else.”
She explained that a property they have in Texas was set up for the wolf dogs, and they didn’t have any kennels to house any of their Louisiana dogs there. She also said they had a small property in Louisiana that they could take some dogs to, but they also need to stay together for the manpower, which makes the decisions tough.
Torres said they’ll have a big need for volunteers after the storm and people can just show up in New Orleans at their building around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, August 31, after the storm’s gone, possibly as early as Monday afternoon, August 30. But for Assumption Parish, volunteers need to email her at email@example.com to find out how they can help.