VISITING VILLALOBOS – NEW ORLEANS
Who would’ve thought that we would have to create a page specifically designed for visiting and tours? Yup Villalobos Rescue Center is now a tourist attraction! Now while this may sound fun and exciting to you, what some forget is that it is still a working environment for us. We juggle taking care of the dogs, doing the admin work, filming a TV show and being open to the public….all of which takes a lot out of us but we do it for the dogs. But if you’re coming all the way to New Orleans just to visit us, you absolutely have to take in some of the great things that happen here in this magical city. So this section has been created just to give you some ideas of the “who, what & where” to go. These are businesses that we have worked with personally and who have been so gracious and kind to us, since our move here to the “Crescent City”. Again these are just some suggestions to help plan out your trip. We’ve also given you some guidelines as to what to expect when coming to our facility. We want your visit to be a good one not only for you but for our dogs as well.
VILLALOBOS VISITING GUIDELINES
1. Again, this is a working environment. To you it is a “TV show” but please remember that we all still work here whether it is running the rescue or filming the TV show (that’s work for us too). And because of this we ask that you respect this. If filming is going on, DO NOT run up in the middle of it to “ask Tia to take a picture with you”. Sadly this has happened. If we are conducting an adoption meet n’ greet with potential adopters, please DO NOT interrupt their time with us to “get an autograph with Tia or any other cast member”…yup, you guessed it….this has happened before. If any of the workers/cast members are taking care of dogs, please DO NOT stop their flow of work as we have to keep a tight time schedule. Just remember that we have invited you into “our home” and “our dogs’ home”. We do not have to be a public facility but since we are now in the “friendliest city in America”, we have chosen to do so. And it is for this very reason that we ask you to be just as “friendly” and respectful. Welcome to our new home.
2. Picture taking is allowed but not video. Because we are constantly filming here, allowing video defeats the purpose of having Animal Planet document our lives and work on camera. Again the “respect” word comes into play. If any of our workers/cast members are in the middle of working DO NOT stop them or get in their way just for the sake of getting a photo taken. In the past, we’ve had overly zealous fans literally stick the camera in our faces and the dog’s face just to get a quick pic. This is not only distracting but also dangerous. Not only can you startle the dog but our workers need to stay focused when handling the dogs. Use common sense when taking photos and there are always photo opportunities when the work is done and you see some of the cast member/workers standing around and helping with the visitors and tourists.
3. Tours take about 20 minutes. You are escorted through the facility by your tour guides: Earl and Sui (our newest parolee)! They will introduce you to some of the dogs and then end the tour with a stop in our merchandise store: LAPIT. We can/will accept cash (we also now have an ATM machine), checks and will be setting up for credit cards.
4. You CANNOT bring your personal dog into the facility. If you have no choice but to bring him/her, please make sure either someone can stand outside with him/her or that you have good A/C in your car. People sometimes forget that though it may not be too hot outside, the humidity can still suck the air out of an enclosed vehicle.
5. Because our workers are also cast members of our show “Pit Bulls & Parolees”, the probability of running into one of them is very high… but many are disappointed when they arrive and they can’t sit down and talk to Tia Torres herself. Yes she does work here and runs the facility on a daily basis but.. we’ve had many people drive hours specifically with the hope of either talking to her about a dog or “taking her to lunch”. So we just want to give you a head’s up that this is not likely. She is being pulled in so many different directions, that she has to juggle her time between the facility in New Orleans and other projects. Just know that she is in her office working but with you “in spirit”.
6. Our public visiting hours are: TUESDAY – FRIDAY (noon – 3:00 pm) and SATURDAY (11:00 am – 2:00 pm) Gates close PROMPTLY at the designated times. This has been a huge problem for us. We get visitors/tourists who for whatever reason, arrive late and actually get rude with us because we won’t let them in. You have to understand that the same people who give you the tours, are on the TV show…ARE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO ARRIVE HERE AT 7:00 AM TO CLEAN KENNELS AND TAKE CARE OF DOGS. By mid-day, we are all very tired and when visiting time ends….it ends. Again – that respect word keeps popping up.
7. “Unexpected visitors”. There have been many. These are the people who show up on days that we are closed or in the middle of the night, honking their car horns and yelling through the gate, just hoping to catch a glimpse of “someone from the TV show”. Yes, believe it or not, this happens all the time. So if you plan on being one of these people, think again. You will not be met with a smile.
8. When you arrive at our front gate, you will be asked to sign in on our guest log and also an appearance release just in case you end up on our TV show. So if you are on America’s Most Wanted, cheating on your significant other or have lied to your boss as to your whereabouts, then our advice is that you probably shouldn’t visit here. No exceptions on this rule.
9. Dropping a dog off with the hopes that we can take him/her. Okay this is another big issue. Unless you have pre-arranged it with VRC, DO NOT assume that we will take your dog, a stray dog, etc. We have had many disappointed people who have driven literally across the country hoping that when they get here, we will take in their dog…only to be turned away at the gate because we have no room. Right now we are focusing on dogs that need us here in Louisiana and every now and then we can take dogs from out of state. But the out of state dogs are ALWAYS pre-arranged through us. We’re sorry that we have to stand fast on this rule but we get about 100 calls a day to take in dogs and about 200 emails daily for the same. We just can’t take in every dog that we get a plea for help for. Our dream come true would be to never have to turn away any dog at the gate.
10. So by now you’re saying…wow these rules are strict! But if you think about it, we’re only asking you to act and behave as you would expect someone to do if they were to come to your home. Unfortunately the above rules have come about from past experience. But with all that being said, we have a very laid back and fun environment when it comes to visitors coming here. Everyone seems to have alot of fun here and are pleasantly surprised that they are allowed to get “up front and personal” with what goes on here at Villalobos. So just be respectful, smile and we guarantee that you will have the time of your life!
Though there are MANY great hotels in the city, these two come recommended because we’ve stayed at both. Both are dog friendly (no size or breed restrictions) and are fairly well priced.
THE RESIDENCE INN
345 St.Joseph St.
New Orleans, LA. 70130
The Residence Inn is your typical “conventional” hotel. The rooms are nice and their courtyard is awesome. They serve a great breakfast and some pretty cool “happy hour” snacks too. Not too far from the French Quarter either. Owned by the Marriott chain, you can’t go wrong.
THE OLIVIER HOUSE HOTEL
828 Toulouse St.
New Orleans, LA. 70112
If you want a true flare for New Orleans, this is the place to stay. Right in the heart of the French Quarter, it is an old mansion converted into a hotel. The doors actually still use the old style brass keys and not those plastic key cards of today. Not as posh as some of the new hotels but you feel like you’re staying in someone’s home….actually you are. This hotel is listed as one of the most haunted places in the French Quarter and take it from me….IT IS! The creaky winding staircase is one of my most favorite things there and the parlour….to die for….literally If you want to feel like you’re back in time, this is the place to stay. And they LOVE dogs there too!
OTHER HOTEL IDEAS
Like any other major cities, we too have the typical La Quintas, Motel 8, etc. If you want to stay just outside the city of New Orleans, the city of Metairie is about 10 minutes away and is a pretty big city at that.
Whether you are coming in by way of the airport or driving here, unless you really know the city well, I would suggest you take a taxi everywhere. The streets here are so messed up and between the “one ways” and the still missing street signs (from Katrina), GPS is a mind buster. First of all many of the streets are in French so unless your GPS is multi language, it will butcher the name of the streets and get you
more lost than when you first started. Everyone here pretty much uses taxis or bicycles. You can rent them or bring yours with you. Bicycles are the best way to make it through the French Quarter and because the city is fairly small, you can bike pretty much anywhere. But make sure you have a VERY secure bicycle lock…..bicycle theft is a big commodity here.
TAXI SERVICE – We actually have our very own special taxi driver – BERNIE. Show him some love by calling him first: 504-261-7670. But there are MANY other taxi companies throughout the city.
And of course there are countless places to eat and listen to music: the two things this city is known for. We hope that are quick guide for visiting will at least make your stay here a little bit easier to navigate. So now all you have to do is pack up and head out and we’ll see you soon!