Animal Planet “Winterns” Talk with the Pit Boss About Dating, Dogfighting and Drama
By: Betty Chu
BOSS star Shorty Rossi and his dog Hercules recently stopped by the Animal
Planet offices where he met with our winter interns: Nick Prete, Holly
Casey and Brian Alkire. The “winterns” had a few questions for the Boss about
his life on and off the TV screen.
Q: How has your life changed since you began working on PIT BOSS?
A: I never really knew how many people watched Animal Planet until I came to the network. I know I’m not the hardest person to recognize. I’m four feet tall with a fedora and walking a pit bull. My life has changed for the good and the bad. Even when you’re in public – no matter if you want to deal with people or not —you have to put on that hidden mask. You know, because most of them are your fans. So it’s good and bad. I mean would I change it and go back to my old life? No.
Q: Why did you decide to run a talent agency and not some other business to support your pit bull rescue?
A: My talent management company came before my pit bull rescue. I saw that I could make money in Hollywood as a little person and I realized I didn't have to do the work; instead I could hire other little people to do it! I always had that creative side; making money and not doing anything. Not that I don’t work my ass off, but at least I don’t have to look like an Oompa Loompa or an elf anymore. I started my rescue in 2001. You know, it’s like you do it for them. A lot of people start rescues for the right reasons, but then they start living off the dogs. Their non-profit foundation becomes their source of income. We decided to do it a different way and let our company fund the rescue.
Q: It’s no secret that and your cast butt heads on your TV show. Do you guys butt heads off camera as much as you do on camera?
Q: Did you think that you and your coworkers were going to have a long professional career together?
A: No. I mean, PIT BOSS was never a thought in my mind. I was pitching other shows about little people. We kept on getting the door slammed in our faces, talking about, “Well, you people already have a show…Little People, Big World.” I’m like..."we only deserve one?" I don’t think Animal Planet – when they got a little teaser about what we do – thought that it was real. They were like, “Did you guys just make this up?” Not knowing that this had been going on for a while. So, you never know what’s going to happen two years from now.
Q: What are some difficulties you’ve faced in the entertainment industry as a little person, before and after the show?
A: Pit bulls are misunderstood about what they really are, just like at times, little people. I mean, we’re not Little People, Big World. That’s a totally different thing. You’ve got The Littlest Couple, which is totally different from the other show and our show. Then you have the Little Chocolatiers one. Again, another totally different show. It lets people see that we’re the same as you, just shorter.
Q: You’re in the social media world getting an industry certificate, but what’s next?
A: I do everything for a reason. I’m taking the social media class so I can explore that world more. I’m always thinking of the next thing, to make the platform last longer. PIT BOSS is not going to be here forever. Will we get another show in the future? I don’t know, but I have to think of other things. Even when PIT BOSS finishes its current run in March, Hercules has his own online web series launching. You never know, if it’s a success maybe they’ll make a show out of that! And get rid of the other little bastards.
Q: Why do you think things like dog fighting are still such big problems?
A: People will sell their soul to make a dollar. Whether it’s prostitution, drugs, cockfighting, fighting each other, you know. Pit bulls don’t kill people, people train them to kill people. Right now you can train a pit bull to be the nicest dog in the world and people are going to automatically fear it because of the media and what people are doing to them.
Q: What do you think our society needs to do to end dog fighting, or that stigma?
A: Ending the stigma is going to be a long, hard road. I mean we’re going in the right direction. We need to make serious fines where dog fighting is a felony, not just a slap on the wrist. Thankfully Animal Planet, with the shows they’ve got now, is making people aware. Whether it’s German Shepherds or a Rottweiler or a Pit Bull or whatever, it’s about being responsible. Most people that have a dog shouldn’t have one. I’m sorry.
Q: For the fans at home, what has been your favorite episode since you guys started PIT BOSS?
A: There have been a lot, but I like people to see how we really are. I liked when they did the roast because they showed a different side of us, or me. I can be funny and I can take punches. Then there are shows where I can be the biggest assh*** in the world because I don’t care. I like to show people how we are, how hectic it is.
Q: Is there a limit to how many Pit Bulls you will own?
A: When I lived in Vegas, I had 20. I became a pit bull hoarder to an extent. When we started the show I had five – then Valentino, Athena came in, now Mario. I feel fortunate that I can come and talk to you guys and travel the country and my dogs are taken care of by people I know. Plus there are cameras online so I can go check up on anybody, anytime, and see what’s going on.
Q: You’ve spoke a little about your dating life before – has the show affected your dating life at all?
A: Oh, it’s human nature that when you’re a public figure or you’re making more money. Then people think I’m a millionaire because celebrityworth.com lied about my assets. They said I’m worth four million. Like yeah, have you seen the house in L.A. I live in? It’s like I live in the projects still. It’s amazing how many more people want to date you or friends that you have. I really got a huge wall up around my life because I’ve seen it happen before. So yeah it’s changed.
Q: Favorite Movie besides “Hercules Saves Christmas?”
A: The Sting
Q: Favorite Actor besides Hercules?
A: Sylvester Stallone. Surprisingly.
Q: Favorite Musician
Q: Kind of dog would you have if you couldn’t have pit bulls?
A: Neapolitan Mastiff.
Q: Have you listened to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues a lot because you were incarcerated there?
A: No, I’ve heard it a couple times, but not really. About a year ago somebody sent me a link on Wikipedia with the most notable prisoners in Folsom State Prison. It was like Charles Manson and Shorty Rossi. Really? I guess I can just knock that off my bucket list.
Q: What would you tell someone who finds a stray pit bull and doesn’t know what to do with it?
A: If you find a stray pit bull, just like with any dog, be careful before you take it into your home. Don’t take it to a dog pound or an animal shelter that’s owned by the city or the county. In every major city, even small cities, rescue shelters exist. Call around. They might tell you they’re full. But try offering them a donation and you’ll be saving a dog’s life. Someone will take the dog if you’re not the right owner for it. That’s what you see us do on Pit Boss sometimes. “We can’t take ‘em.” We’ll give you a hundred bucks. “…okay we’ll find something.” If you are thinking about keeping the dog, take it to the vet to get a check-up right away and to make sure it’s not microchipped.