Pit Bulls and Felons: Reality TV’s Newest Stars?

by | February 5, 2010 at 10:04 AM | TV News

Shorty Rossi with his pit bulls (Discovery Channel)

Shorty Rossi with his pit bulls (Discovery Channel)

Celebrities are devoured by the maw of relentless tabloids every day. This time they’re taking a bite at “Pit Boss” lead player Shorty Rossi, whose mug shot just surfaced on TMZ. That can’t be good for the diminutive reality TV star. Or can it?

Melvin ‘Shorty’ Rossi has made no effort to conceal his criminal past, even using it to enhance his street cred to apparently great effect. But the TMZ report reveals further details about what landed the pit bull lover and ‘Little People’ casting director in prison: attempted murder.

'Pit Boss' Melvin 'Shorty' Rossi Served Time in Calif. Prison (Photo: TMZ)

'Pit Boss' Melvin 'Shorty' Rossi Served Time in Calif. Prison (Photo: TMZ)

Rossi, a former Bloods gang member, was sentenced in 1988 to 20 years in California state prison for his involvement in a gang-related shooting in Los Angeles. He received an early release after 10 years and is grateful for turning his life around. For the last nine years, he’s been rescuing pit bills and now ranks as one of Animal Planet’s biggest stars.

Have you checked out ‘Pit Boss’ yet? Take a peek in the clip below, as the pups don’t exactly cooperate in their photo shoot with…pin-up girls!


Another celebrity dogged by a checkered past is also hoping to rehabilitate his image: NFL star Michael Vick.

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback served 18 months in prison following his 2007 arrest for operating a dogfighting ring. It nearly destroyed his football career and he almost went bankrupt.

But Hollywood is all about redemptive comebacks. Vick is back on the playing field with the Philadelphia Eagles, up front about his changed attitude toward animals (and presumably all living things), and now has his own show ‘The Michael Vick Project.’ The 10-part reality docu-series, which depicts his comeback journey, set record-breaking ratings for its debut on BET.

It just goes to show that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Especially on reality TV.

‘Pit Boss’ airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet. ‘The Michael Vick Project’ airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on BET.