Shorty Rossi with his Pit Bull Hercules

With myriad series like Little Chocolatiers, The Little Couple and Little People, Big World, reality shows about small-statured folks have taken off in a big way. But none has had as much bite as Pit Boss, Animal Planet's edgy, yet endearing, hit about a street-smart ex-con who runs both a Los Angeles pit-bull rescue operation and a little-person entertainment agency (airing Saturday at 10/9c).

"Little people are misunderstood just like pit bulls are," says straight-talking star Shorty Rossi, who believes the glut of LP series helps dispel stereotypes. "It gets it out there that we're not just circus freaks and entertainers — even though that is my main line of business. Some of us live on a huge ranch, some have our own chocolate company — which I think is a riot! — and then there is a little guy who owns a business and has a pit-bull rescue."

In fact, it's Rossi's actor-placement biz — dubbed Shortywood — that finances his passion for saving the unjustly maligned breed. "We make a commission, the commission makes profits, and the profits help the dogs," he says matter-of-factly from his second home in Mexico, where he's spending time with his — count 'em — six pit bulls. "They're all here with me," says Rossi, well aware of the difficulties of traveling with a half-dozen dogs. "It's always an adventure at U.S. Customs when you try to go across the border!"

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