Dogs

Mariah’s 10 Questions

posted: 05/15/12
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Mariah from Animal Planet's Pit Boss.
Stephanie Diani/DCL
Meet the TeamTia, Tania, Mariah, Kanani and Keli'i, Mondo

Get to know a bit more about Pit Bulls & Parolees' Mariah.

Why do you think pit bulls are a breed worth rescuing?

Because they get kicked to the bottom. Even though they are one of the world's most stable breeds, in the top two, they're still the underdog. I love their personalities and everything about them. People just don't give them the chance that they deserve, so we give them that chance.

What is your favorite pit bull rescue story?

That's a hard question because we've done so many rescues. But when I was 11, I got to go on a raid. There was a lady who kept beautiful show dogs in her home, but she had gone crazy and began doing drugs. She boarded up the house and padlocked all the kennels with the pit bulls inside. When we got there, some had died, and some had eaten puppies or eaten each other to stay alive.

What is it like living and working with parolees?

It's amazing, actually … like having a bunch of big brothers around. Just like the dogs, they're not given a chance. Everyone makes mistakes, and we don't judge them for that. They make sure that I'm safe and my mom's safe.

How has your life at Villalobos shaped who you are today?

Working there and growing up there has in every single way made me who I am today. It has taught me not to be judgmental and when to forgive and not to forgive. I have learned to keep an open mind.

Would you describe a public speaking experience where you felt that you really made a difference?

I do a lot of speaking at schools, and those are my favorite. When I was about 7, I spoke in front of the mayor of Los Angeles about spaying and neutering, with my dog L.A. by my side. I had to stand on a chair just to get to the microphone. The people were expecting nice things because, of course, little kids love puppies. I told them about the harsh things — the killing I have to see every day because of over breeding.

What goals have you set for your future?

My sister and I have extremely big plans. We want to open a store in Venice, Calif., called L.A. Pitt. It would offer doggy day care and training and sell some things designed for dogs or inspired by dogs. Also, one week each month, we want to travel to New Orleans to do seminars about pit bulls. We want to start a magazine called Play Pit, a pit bull and dog magazine. My sister also wants to sell pit bull food. Pit bulls get allergies and need specific food. I want to design my own line of jeans, because I love design and it's my favorite thing to design …

You said that you're interested in fashion design. What inspires your fashion sense?

I grew up in such a small town. It was a typical small town where everyone is the same. Everyone wears the same clothes and looks the same. Individuality is a part of my family. I guess this is my way of expressing my own individuality. I think it's important for young girls to have their own individuality and not be afraid to express it.

What is your favorite fashion look?

I'm really into the pin-up look, but jeans are my favorite thing to design.

How would you describe your experiences doing beauty pageants?

Well, with my tattoos and piercings, I obviously can't do it now. My first pageant was when I was 11. It was a community pageant. Then I went to national pageants where you don't speak; it's just about the beauty. I loved dressing up and the hair and makeup and all of it. I talked to my mom about an idea to start a pageant for girls with tattoos.

Tia Torres. Friend? Mother? Both?

Me and my mom and my sister have an interesting relationship — some take it as a bad thing, some people love it. We don't run up and hug each other and tell each other "I love you," but we have an extremely strong bond, one that most mothers and daughters don't have. Of course, she scares me because she's such a strong person; she scares everyone. But I know that I can tell her anything and she will never judge me or get mad at the decisions I make. Me and my mom and my sister are best friends, but every day we yell at each other.

What have you learned from her?

Everything. She's made me who I am. I know everyone says "My mom's my hero," but outside of being my mom, she's still my hero. She's a single mom — she's gone through hell and back. But she doesn't care if it's her last dollar; she will give it to make sure someone's OK. She is the most compassionate person, and she never judges. She taught me to be extremely strong and not to let anyone tell me who I am and what I'm going to be. Most people think they need a man to provide for them, but we don't.

To learn more about Mariah, read her bio.

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