With the second season finale of “Pit Boss” coming up Oct. 23, star Shorty Rossi is awaiting word on Season 3 of his reality show. The fedora-wearing, 4 ’1/2” tough guy talent agent, who runs a pit bull rescue operation, definitely wants to continue with the popular Animal Planet series, though in some ways it sounds as if it’s turned his world upside-down.
“Our workload has quadrupled, so that’s a hard thing,” observes Shorty. Also, “It’s amazing how many people watch Animal Planet. We’re recognized everywhere we go. I don’t have a private life no more, that’s over. I live part-time in Mexico. That was my solace, but now the show is being aired in Mexico and I’m getting recognized there. I just came up from there. Even the toll road inspector said, ‘I saw you and the dogs. I saw you on cable.’ I went uh-oh.”
Rossi, in case you didn’t know, has a seriously improbable back story – including leaving his unhappy home by age 15, living with a friend’s family in Watts, becoming a gang banger, getting convicted of attempted murder (among other things), and doing 10 years and 10 months of hard time in Folsom Prison. The little person ex-con’s first post-prison gig was in an Alvin the Chipmunk costume at the Universal Studios theme park in Hollywood.
Recent episodes of his Saturday night “Pit Boss” series have taken him back to his old juvenile detention cell and other haunts, and have been hinting at a reunion with his estranged parents, who stayed away when he was behind bars. How has it felt to revisit so much personal pain?
“Some of it brings catharsis. Some of it just says, ‘Get over it, go on with your life.’ The future is not bound by the past,” stresses Shorty, who’s been seen trying to talk sense into wayward teens from time to time – and stays in touch with a few of them.
He gets loads of fan mail letters and emails these days, from “nine-year-olds to 90-year-olds,” he says. A little girl recently sent in her dollar allowance to help with his dogs, which Shorty admits he found touching.
Ahead on “Pit Boss,” he tells us there are confrontations coming, “and, as a matter of fact, we go to Mexico.” Ahead for Shorty himself: ongoing advocacy for the controversial dog breed he knows as loyal and loving companions; and, possibly, a book. “There’s a lot about what it was like to get from there to here that hasn’t been covered,” he says.