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Pit Bull Once Forced To Fight Now Loves His Kid SO Much

<p><a href="http://www.apathwaytohope.org/">A Pathway to Hope</a><span></span></p>

A beat-up, used-up, battered, bleeding old fighting dog managed to lick an animal control officer's hand - moments before he was slated to be put down.

He was suffering so much, immediate euthanasia seemed the only answer.

A Pathway to Hope

But Jude's last gasp was more like a prayer. For kindness.

His name is Jude. And he's alive today because that prayer was answered.

The animal control officer couldn't put Jude down.

"He called one of our volunteers and said, 'I can't. I can't do it. Can you help him?'" Amy Hofer, co-founder of A Pathway to Hope animal rescue, told The Dodo.

Jude, as the dog came to be called, was among three pit bulls rescued from a fighting ring in Paterson, New Jersey, last May. The other two dogs, in a tragic twist, were stolen from the shelter, presumably by the people who used them in this brutish practice.

When Jude was found, his organs were failing, and he had a heart murmur and severe septic wounds - he was the poster dog for a blood sport.

A Pathway to Hope

At the veterinary hospital, Hofer recalls, "they didn't even know what color he was because he was covered in blood."

And, although Jude appeared to recover at first, his health took a sudden turn for the critical.

His fighting spirit, however, may have been contagious.

"We thought we were going to lose him again," Hofer says.

The veterinarian refused to give up on him, taking Jude out of his cage for short walks, even when the dog didn't want to move.

One paw in front of the other, Jude.

Inch by painstaking inch, he got better. Finally, he found his way to a foster family - where he began winning hearts.

And best friends.

A Pathway to Hope

Today, Jude is not a statistic. He's not among the countless dogs who die, painfully, anonymously, in underground fighting dens.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates there are tens of thousands of people involved in dogfighting in the U.S. - although the practice is illegal in every state.

While Jude has made an astonishing escape from the torments of the ring, his time in foster care is coming to an end. His family, who has had him for six months, is expecting another baby. More family members are coming to live with them. There's just not enough room for him.

"He's such a great dog," Hofer says. "He's not a hard dog. He has anxiety, but, of course he has anxiety. He doesn't like to be in crate."

"He's not aggressive in any way. He's extremely, overly tolerant of kids."

Indeed.

A Pathway to Hope

Jude is no longer obscure, but a shining example of what one small act of kindness can mean for a dog whose life has been so utterly bereft of compassion.

Don't let his voice be the only one calling for mercy.

Ask the U.S. Sentencing Commission to get tough on animal fighters and increase jail sentences here.

And , if you think you can give him a forever home, get in touch with A Pathway to Hope.