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TV star starts rescue shelter for pit bulls

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- Former reality television star Jake Gardner from Animal Planet's "Pit Bull & Parolees" has started his own pit bull rescue center in Asheboro.

Gardner left after four seasons on the show as a part of Villalobos Rescue Center, which gave second chances to rescued pit bulls and parolees that help to rehabilitate them.

On the show, Gardner said cast members joked around with his title being the "Overlord" because of his many responsibilities managing employees, volunteers and kennel operations at the center.

Gardner has used his experience from the show to start his own center in Asheboro called Fortitudine Vincimus Rescue Center or "The Fort" for short.

"There’s nothing like Villalobos, and that’s kind of what I’m hoping to bring to North Carolina, a rescue where we have a facility where we're able to help on a much larger scale,” Gardner said.

While pit bulls are Gardner's passion, the organization has taken in other breeds that need saving. Recently, 11 dogs from Guildford County's Animal Shelter were sent to "The Fort" because of lack of space.

A Majority of the dogs under Gardner's care are next on the euthanization list at man Triad shelters.

Gardner said he chose to come to North Carolina after learning of the gas chamber and heart stick techniques, as well as the shelter over population issues in the state.

“Not everything can be saved as much as I wish it could, but if it has to be euthanized why not have it be done in the most humane way possible,” Gardner asked.

Gardner is also using the organization to give education on the importance of spaying and neutering your dog. He is scheduled to speak to local juvenile delinquents who work with animals on proper dog handling.

A family who applies to "The Fort" for adoption, must first pass a house check by the organization. All pit bulls ready for adoption are spayed or neutered, and up to date with their necessary vaccinations.

Gardner is looking for a permanent facility to house his rescue organization in the Randolph County area.

"The Fort" relies on private donations and sponsorship to fund the rescues.

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