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The Villalobos Connection

April 8, 2015

welcome to texas


15 dogs loaded into a van for one 8-hour freedom ride from Louisiana to Texas. As we roll down the highway trying to decipher that smell wafting from the back of the van and which kennel it may be coming from, I think about how we got to this point and what it means to me personally.

Let’s see… It all started this past summer. My friend and fellow rescuer, Meredith signed on to volunteer for a week at the Villalobos Rescue Center (VRC) in New Orleans. You may be familiar with VRC as the featured rescue of the show Pit Bulls and Parolees on Animal Planet. Meredith is a native of Louisiana and a huge pit bull lover, so this was right up her alley! She spent the week at VRC working with their numerous rescued pits and ‘swamp dogs’, while also learning the ins and outs of the operation. It was quite a humbling and moving experience for her, and when she returned home to Dallas she approached me about also getting involved. We worked up a plan with our own rescue, DFW Rescue Me, to have the VRC crew bring over a few dogs from their facility and get them into our program during our adoption drive at the State Fair of Texas. It went so well that before the fair was over those dogs had been adopted and we even brought over a few more!

Meredith was insistent that I, too, visit VRC to see where these dogs were coming from and why this was such an important partnership. So in November, I and another friend and rescuer, Kristan, traveled to New Orleans with Meredith to visit VRC. I must admit at this point I was not a loyal viewer of the TV show. I knew of it and had seen a few clips here and there, but to be honest, I live this rescue stuff every day and had no real desire to watch it while I tried to get in some down time. Needless to say, I was absolutely unprepared for what we encountered. Even avid viewers of the show will never understand the sheer magnitude of this operation.

VRC gates

We arrived at the main facility and VRC crew members Earl and Sui met us at the gate to give us the grand tour. We learned that this facility only holds a portion of their dogs as VRC houses over 400 dogs in kennels in multiple warehouses spread across the area with new dogs arriving daily. As you can imagine, the cost to care for these dogs day in and day out is astronomical. Sadly, most of these dogs will never be adopted but instead live out their lives at VRC. I inquired as to how this could happen, where did all these dogs come from? The answer was simple: Katrina. When the great storm hit, many dogs were separated from owners or simply left behind. The vast majority of these dogs were never spayed/neutered and left to procreate, compounding the situation. Strays are readily available for the taking and spay/neuter education is nonexistent, making adoption numbers drastically low across the area. While VRC may have a huge fan base nationwide through their TV show, they still only adopt out an average of about 60 dogs a year. Yes, per YEAR. It was in that moment, as I stood among the rows and rows of kennels, that I truly understood why we were here and the impact that our group could have.

vrc rideAfter we returned home to Dallas from VRC, months passed but that trip stuck with me and I thought about those dogs often. Then in February of this year, VRC reached out to us once again. They had a litter of 11 newborn lab mix puppies; puppies we all knew would grow up and live out their lives at VRC if we didn’t step up to help.  Meredith, Kristan, and I again joined forces and made the trip to New Orleans to pick up these dogs to bring them home to Dallas where we knew we could find them fabulous forever homes. In addition to the freedom ride11 puppies, we also chose 4 adult ‘swamp dogs’ of various mixed breeds to bring into our program as well – for a total of 15 dogs! Hey, in Dallas we go BIG, right?

Now, you may be asking, ‘Don’t you have enough dogs in Dallas to focus on rather than going outside of your own backyard?’ Well, yes, but… Dallas has a great rescue base with many groups working hard to save animals all over the Metroplex. New Orleans doesn’t have that, and it is heartbreaking to know that these healthy and highly adoptable dogs will never see a home, but instead live their entire lives in a kennel. The simple fact is that our group, DFWRM, can do for these dogs what VRC can’t — get these dogs adopted. DFWRM adopts out over 400 dogs a year versus VRC’s 60 adoptions per year. This is not to slight VRC in any way as they do amazing work; we just have very different resources. Also keep in mind that all the dogs coming to us are healthy, have been fully vetted, and already spayed/neutered with VRC picking up that tab (with the exception of the very young puppies). This means that our group won’t have to cover those expenses and we can put the adoption fees we gain to good use helping more of our own hometown dogs.

As rescuers we all want to make a difference, and sometimes that means stepping outside of the box to make the biggest impact possible. While the DFW area will always be our main focus, it is humbling and inspiring to know that our group kicks major butt and we can extend our hand to other rescues from time to time. These 15 dogs may not seem like much, but we hope that even our simplest efforts spill over to create a greater effect. Be it local or afar, the old adage holds true even in rescue — when you throw a rock into a pond, the ripples go on and on.


**If you are interested in adopting a dog from or donating to DFW Rescue Me, visit the DFWRM website or our Facebook page.

  1. Nice recap! It’s great that DFW Rescue Me recognizes the need within its own community as well as the needs of others who are very desperate. Those dogs saved by VRC will undoubtedly find the best possible homes with the help of DFWRM volunteers and adopters.

  2. Reblogged this on rmbrox.

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