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Delaware Gives Abused Pit Bulls The Second Chance They Deserve

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It wasn't that long ago that lots of people -- including many prominent animal welfare groups -- thought dogs rescued from dogfighting busts couldn't ever go on to live normal lives as family pets.

The almost unbelievably heartwarming second acts for Michael Vick's dogs changed all that. And now it's just about universally accepted that even those dogs who have been treated the very worst can thrive, once they are given a loving environment.

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This is Little Red, one of the Vick dogs. She was adopted in 2012. Photo credit: Best Friends Animal Society

Delaware can provide just that environment, after Governor Jack Markell (D) signed Senate Bill 245 into law late last week.

Under the new law, dogs seized from fighting situations -- most often pit bulls -- may now be individually evaluated to see if they might be adoptable. Previously, the law deemed all dogs seized from fighting situations to be "dangerous," and required them to be euthanized (including pregnant dogs, and puppies, though this part of the requirement seems to have been executed in a somewhat flexible manner).

"Delaware SB 245 is an extremely important law that will give victims of cruelty a chance of a loving home,” says Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends convinced a Virginia court that Vick's dogs deserved the chance to live after being brutalized at his Bad Newz Kennels.

VanKavage says she's heartened now to see another state come in line with the American Bar Association's 2011 resolution calling for legislative and governmental bodies "to ensure the humane treatment and disposition of seized animals."

Michigan -- one of just 13 states where the law still requires all dogs rescued from fighting situations to be euthanized -- may be next. A change similar to Delaware's was introduced in the state senate last month.

Each of these is a "common sense bill," says VanKavage. "Since the Michael Vick dogs, we've learned that every dog should be evaluated as an individual and deserves a chance to be loved."

Do you have an animal story to share? Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com

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