By Claudia Elliott, Tehachapi News
An effort by a reality TV show star to establish an animal shelter in Old West Ranch has come up against opposition from the OWR Property Owners Association.
The Kern County Planning Commission will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m. on the request by Tia Maria Torres for a Conditional Use Permit for an animal shelter that will house a maximum of 100 dogs.
Torres operates under the name Villalobos Rescue Center. According to its website, Torres specializes in pairing Pit Bulls and parolees in rehabilitation programs. The operation is the subject of a series of a popular Animal Planet network show called “Pitbulls and Parolees.” The final episode of the second season of the show features scenes of Torres, family members and volunteers on the property with some of the dogs which she plans to move from her current location in Agua Dulce.
After hearing of the plans the president of the OWR POA, Lula Merle King Carnes, began circulating a letter to friends and neighbors, drawing attention to the public hearing, expressing concerns and encouraging people to write the planning commission or attend the March 10 hearing.
Torres posted Carnes’ letter on the Villalobos Rescue Center’s Facebook page — which has more than 48,000 “likes,” a Facebook term for support — and called Carnes “an angry and hateful woman.” She encouraged supporters to contact the planning commission and also admonished them not to respond to Carnes.
On Saturday morning Carnes said she has never met Torres, but that she did receive threats following the Facebook posting.
The Tehachapi News will have continued coverage of this issue next week.
Written comments to county planning staff were due by Tuesday, but additional comments may be submitted until the March 10 hearing, when speakers will be heard.