It’s said a lot that God is a God of second chances. Look no further than the life of Paul the apostle to see the impact that a second chance can make. He of course isn’t the only one. Each of us has been extended a second chance…and a third, fourth, fifth and sixth. While God doesn’t just hand us a free pass to live immoral lives on our terms, He isn’t standing behind us with the whip or hammer, waiting for us to mess up the valuable chance we’ve been given.
Intro Animal Planet.
How’s that for a strange transition? I know, its not a connection I would have made myself, until Thanksgiving night. My wife and I were home and up late and came across Animal Planet on our new Direct TV system. We were watching a cute but forgettable show about dogs and their owners, but during the commercials we saw an add for a special event. They called it the “You Watch, We Give” special for a program called Pitbulls and Parolees. The show itself got my attention and I couldn’t help but stay tuned in, event though I wanted and needed to go to bed.
The episode was riveting. It introduced me to a woman by the name of Tia who runs a shelter and rehabilitation center for pitbulls using parolees with no other options. I WARN YOU before going further that the show and its website have graphic content (animal abuse, bleeped cussing from the parolees, etc) but I encourage you to check out the websites for the show and the shelter here:
http://animal.discovery.com/tv/pitbulls-and-parolees/ and here: http://www.vrcpitbull.com/
Tia comes across as a soft-hearted, good natured, rough around the edges humanitarian with a heart for animals that are unwanted and often abused and abandoned. One particular episode introduces us to a dog that was left tied to a poll in the sun for several days with no food or water, without the ability to move or lay down. Another deals with a dog that survived three weeks on a ledge in a school closet after hurricane Katrina.
The dogs come from many backgrounds and are worked with, cared for, and hopefully adopted into caring and understanding families. As a pet owner whose mother is a former vet tech, I can say that while the show certainly does its best to paint the animals in an always positive light, the line that they often share that the animals are misunderstood is correct. Pitbulls are considered dangerous and unpredictable dogs, and they can be…but the only difference between them and any other mid to large sized dog is the negative attention they’ve gotten. The aggressive nature can be there for any animal that is trained in that way…
Anyway, I am getting off track. The other part of the show involves the parolees. These are guys that haven’t committed the ‘serious’ crimes. They are mostly drug related, theft, and the like. She hires them, entrusts them with the dogs and the work, and provides an environment where they can make mistakes, take chances, learn, and step out. She’s tough on them, but fair with them too. She comes down hard when they fail due to lack of discipline or effort, but is also right there with them as their biggest fan and supporter.
The show is not for kids. The dogs are often coming from abusive situations and their histories contain pictures that would disturb children, heck, they disturb me. And the parolees are…you guessed it…parolees. They are NOT Christian role models. However, the themes of forgiveness, redemption, perseverance…and second chances…are so strong in each episode, that it has become the only must watch show I have on our DVR. (I do have a few shows I WANT to watch, just so you know.)
Tia certainly isn’t a saint. I go back and forth based on things she says and does as to if I think she is a Christian, but I will say this: she gets it. She gets it better than most Christians will ever get it, which is sad, because the opportunities God has given each of us through the redemption process is so deep and rich that we can’t possibly home to fully grasp the true impact of it on our lives.
But that moment, when a second chance is given to someone, human or animal, who could never earn it, that is truly a beautiful thing to see.
Oh, I am happy to say my participation in the “You Watch, We Give” campaign helped Tia raise $50,000 to help care for here neglected dogs…and her parolees!