I was going to adopt a senior dog from Villalobos Rescue Center, by the name of Joan Rivers. My understand was that I would adopt her and they would pay medical expenses. Although there was mention of transportation costs on their adoption page, I was under the impression that I would not be required to provide said costs because she was a senior dog and I would be providing her with a home for her final days. Initially I was told on the phone that I would be getting her sometime around the end of July (2 weeks). I called one more time and emailed about 3 times asking for progress on her transportation. I even offered to donate as much as I could to defray costs but only if the money could be earmarked for her transportation. The response I received back was that the donation could not be earmarked and they were not coming up with the money. In essence, I am supposed to donate money to transport a dog I wanted to adopt but there was no guarantee that the monies would be used that reason. I was told in an email that getting her out to me suddenly was going to be over $600 but there was still no guarantee the money would get earmarked for her transportation. I felt like this had turned into a hostage situation where I would get the dog only after giving up $600 now and who knows how much in the future for 'transportation costs'. Once they had deemed that I had given them enough would I still not have the dog? I started to question the motivation behind this so-called adoption and my previous donation for a memorial for my dog, Sister. It was obvious the dog was not coming. I requested return of my memorial donation and gave up the idea that I would ever getting this dog. Well, today I got a nasty gram from Tia Torres herself telling me it would cost $1,500 to transport this dog! Tia also threatened me with criminal charges and civil litigation. She is claiming that the publication of my protestations is illegal and further postings on my part will be followed by communication from their attorney. Since she lives in one state and I another my criminal violation would have to be federal and while I am no expert on federal statutes, I doubt if there is precedent for criminal charges. Civil litigation would entail her probably retaining a lawyer in her state and mine. I find it interesting and curious that she has enough money to sue someone on disability but not enough to transport a dog weighing under 20 lbs. This is beyond ridiculous to be treated this way and I want others to know about it so they don't get victimized too. Therefore, I am making extra effort to publish my experience in more venues than I previously planned because I really feel this is gone beyond the pale.
Review from Guidestar
I have recently had reason to interact with this organization. I had become a fan through watching their series, "Pitbulls and Parolees" so after watching for awhile I ordered some merchandise; specifically some sunglasses. Although there was a slight glitch in getting them, I did get them and all was made right about the mix up. I have my sunglasses now which I enjoy wearing when I take my dog outside. They fit very well and block out our high altitude sun quite nicely.
I am now on good terms with this organization. So much so that recently when they had an influx of puppies and had other unforeseen circumstances a plea for help went out to the general public. I answered this call by purchasing and having shipped to their facility in New Orleans, LA a few items on their wish list.
Although I traced the shipments step-by-step from my end, it turned out that it was unnecessary because Becky contacted me via email the moment the articles arrived.
So I thank you, Becky, for the updates.
Mariah, a big thanks to you for making things right about my sunglasses.
Tia keep up the good work.
Greetings to all.
How can you rely on donations but not share with your donors how much you are getting and where it goes? Very shady.
They refuse to provide any financial information since 2008. A BIG red flag. Even that info was NOT enough to determine if it is a well rated charity (spending >65% of revenue on program activities and not staff housing, travel, etc)...a HUGE RED FLAG.
Nice that there's a caring show for the cameras but if there was nothing to hide, why not disclose your financials like all responsible charities do? Refuse to supply financial information and you stay off the "worst charity' lists.
On camera there are lots of comments and pics of staff housing that appears to be provided by Villalobos donation money. Look up property ownership by Villalobos and you find houses that were purchased for staff before they did renovations and roofing to the building housing the dogs. WHOPPING BIG RED FLAG.
Follow the timeline of "explanations" of the staff housing from "to provide retirement homes for older dogs" to "we are animal control in rural areas and need sites to serve those places." Funny they have NO kennel licenses other than Villalobos itself, no posted hours of operation for these supposedly necessary sites and their addresses are not posted. How can you be "animal control" if you hide your locations? Why would you need to purchase homes to house supposedly non-adoptable dogs (and all your family) when you have a large facility in New Mexico specifically for long term housing of dogs???
One of the homes for Tia's kids is waterfront on the bayou. They showed 2 dogs at the home provided for her sons and surprise!... neither of those dogs were up for adoption. Other reality tv stars provide their own housing, utilities, etc.
You can't do anything there without signing a complete confidentiality agreement, yet Villalobos staff are free to publicly comment on anything they please. why legally silence everyone with whom you have contact if there's nothing to hide?
They talk about massive increases in their expenses in NOLA but provide no verifiable explanation. By their own minimal and very rare reports their adoptions haven't increased much, which means your animal intake can't increase much. Yes they now have to pay for heartworm preventative like most animal shelters do but that doesn't cost that much when purchased in bulk. They also get large donations of food and medication directly to the shelter and don't have to purchase all of their supplies.
So where is the big increase in expenses? Buying numerous properties to house family and long time staff is very expensive.
Donors beware!!!!!! Villalobos is a huge front for criminal activity, misuse and abuse of donation dollars and merchanise. The fact that they have not posted tax returns for years with guide star should tell you something,. It's a fact that they don't pay income tax when paying their "employees" and only pay in cash or screw them by not paying them at all ,should get the IRS involved. I've witnessed donations being stolen by volunteers and used for personal use by villalobos employees. I've witnessed a desperate plea for food although their storage units were full and food was being given out to volunteers and employees for their own dogs.... There are numerous RV trips across the county that they justify by bringing a few dogs on board to give away to other rescues even though their are qualified applicants waiting for them. Tia often uses these trips to visit her aryan brotherhood husband in a norther California prisonwhile instead if doing dog rescue business...interstate fraud is rampant. The storage and warehousing of hundreds of dogs in un air conditioned warehouses through out Louisiana has been photographed And videotaped by volunteers and concerned employees who are concerned for the dogs welfare. We stood mortified as Vans of dogs we're being loaded up and taken to be killed although they claim to be a no kill shelter...they have and will attack anyone who is onto their scheme...I have witnessed and experienced burglaries, trespassings, gun toting felons, aryan brotherhood tagging a and just plain fearful dogs and employees who are intimidated into keeping things quiet or "pay a life altering price" according to Tia Torres for any bad publicity Into their shady enterprise. Do not support this organization in any way. Many of us speak from experience.
After reading about their situation on Facebook I ordered about $125 value of items on their "wishlist" with a commercial website. I had difficulty contacting the organization to let them know some of their list with stores needed updating and also requesting an acknowledgment for tax purposes.
I used the web "email" available on the web site but only received a "forwarding" message several days later. My order has not been acknowledged even though the pet company said it was sent to them directly.
I am also concerned about the lack of financial records provided to Guidestar and that the founder and three other females are the "board". I am sure they all work very hard but according to their web page they also are operating a restaurant/bar and small hotel.
All things considered, there is room for questioning the accountability of monies, services and donations received by this agency especially with the TV program revenues. I won't donate again until I feel more confident.
Review from Guidestar
My daughters and I visited Villalobos in NOLA to drop off some donations. We were greeted immediately, signed in and given a tour by both volunteers and staff. Everyone was incredible friendly and open. I was amazed and impressed with the cleanliness and organization of the kennels and facility. In the middle of summer with 100= dogs there was not one dirty kennel or dog and not a SINGLE dog smell. Each dog area was immaculate.
PLEASE consider making a donation!!!
I've been involved as a volunteer for over five years and feel I know this group and their achievements very well. Their mission is pit bulls, a breed that is in the greatest need of human compassion and rescue. No breed is treated worse and has less voices speaking up about it, and thank dog for Villalobos Rescue and other groups who do not give up even when they can't save them all, they save the ones they can. VRC is not just about taking dogs in, they have a comprehensive adoption program, screen adopters carefully and match them with dogs that fit their lifestyle. Adopted dogs are given support and resources for their lifetime, if the adopters can't keep them then VRC always takes the dogs back.
VRC is also about changing the stars for the people who care for these dogs, another "disposable" group in society, the parolees. These guys are able to get their second chance at VRC and work with the dogs where they are judged only on their work, not the color of their skin or the number of tattooes they might have. The parolees learn compassion and love as they build strong relationships with the dogs and each other, it's just sad there are not more programs available because the need is huge.
I don't volunteer my time without knowing it is making a difference and Villalobos Rescue Center makes a difference, every single day, and even when they can't save every dog it certainly matters to the dogs that do enter their doors.
This nonprofit is a wonderful group of dedicated people who go beyond the call of duty to help dogs and sometimes even cats. They live and breathe for these animals. The breed they choose to help is a breed that is terribly misunderstood. They also help rehabilitate parolees which is also a group of people who are terribly misunderstood.
This group has always had an "A" on their kennel inspections. They have had a valid kennel license in Los Angeles County for 17 YEARS.
The are the gold standard when it comes to helping animals and the care they provide.
In California, they are one of ONLY two groups who rehabilitate people who have been in prison. There may be new groups who help, but to my knowledge, they are few and far between. This is despite getting NO government funding to run their programs.
The last IRS form 990 that is posted is from 2008??? That's a HUGE red flag.
Review from Guidestar