As many of you now know, the dream of moving Villalobos to a new location in Tehachapi, Calif. is no longer happening. After spending countless days and dollars preparing for what was to be a paradise for Pit Bulls, Kern County did a “180” on us and denied our permits to operate at the last minute. This was after we had been told with each step in the process…”no problem…everything is looking good”. The Kern County Sheriff’s Dept. also got involved by sending the county commissioners a three page letter saying that we were “dangerous”. Our good work in Los Angeles County meant nothing to these people.
Despite being denied permits to run a “business” out of the Tehachapi property, there was nothing that said we couldn’t run a sanctuary for our old dogs there. So we held our heads high and began to make plans to have our loyal employee “Mando” and his family move there to run the sanctuary. To be able to do something good with the property gave it a purpose and all the hard work would not be in vain. Then all Hell broke loose….literally.
On Sept. 4, 2011, a small plane crashed in front of the house/property in Tehachapi and burst into flames. Within minutes our beautiful 22 acre wooded “Pit Bull Sanctuary” was a burning inferno.
It was the second fire to hit our Tehachapi property in a year! The fire from last year barely missed us but this one took everything. Oak trees that once stood tall for hundreds of years were now nothing but tall, black toothpicks. The indoor kennel building was nothing but crumpled metal and the contents, nothing but ashes and “gray dust”. Thankfully no dogs were there and everyone was safe!
So Villalobos was forced to remain at their old location in Agua Dulce, Calif. until something could be figured out. In this past year, the rules and regulations for running a kennel business in L.A. County changed and became more strict and….more expensive. Then there were those angry brush fires that continued to get closer and closer with each blaze. Someone was sending us a message. Between the loss of the Tehachapi property and the growing expenses to survive in L. A. County, we decided to make a life altering decision……..Villalobos Rescue Center is leaving California.
After 18 years of operating here in Los Angeles County, we have already begun our journey to leave California and will be setting up in two locations/states. One will be a sanctuary for our unadoptables and our senior dogs while the other will be our rescue and adoption center. Though the two locations will be several states away from each other, they will still continue to fuction as one organization. The other big change in regards to the move is that for the first time in Villalobos history, our rescue/adoption center will be open to the public on a “walk-in” basis. It will also serve as a “K-9 Welfare Center” for the neighborhood. The sanctuary will be run out of a donated 50 acre ranch and will serve as a peaceful oasis for our seniors and unadoptables.
At this time we cannot announce which states we are re-locating to until we are completely moved in. This will all be done by Dec. 31, 2011 or possibly before. We will announce our new location(s) sometime in December. Despite the fact that we were treated so badly by Kern County, we will still continue to conduct our free spay/neuter program for the Pit Bull owning residents of Kern County (funded by the Heigl Foundation). We will though, miss working with L.A.City Animal Services with whom we combined forces with in March 1999 to create the Pit Bull Support Group and Training Program. Hopefully we can implement this program with another animal control agency in our new home state.
There are now so many Pit Bull rescue groups in Los Angeles so I’m sure the torch will be carried over just fine. It’s time for us to move on to an area where we can survive financially and also where we are desperately needed. We will keep everyone posted with our moving progress and we feel this move will make us stronger. But most importantly, it will be better for the dogs….much better actually. The Villalobos family is very excited to be able to pick themselves up after getting knocked down over the Tehachapi disaster and the growing problems in Los Angeles, so that they can offer the dogs a better life. We are all very excited to begin our new journey elsewhere and hopefully this new chapter in our lives will be successful.