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 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Rescue groups can start applying to find homes for pit bulls seized from NFL quarterback Michael Vick's dogfighting operation.
Rebecca J. Huss, an animal law expert and the dogs' court-appointed guardian, made an application form available Friday as the latest step in the process of overseeing the placement or euthanasia of 48 dogs from Vick's Bad Newz Kennels operation.
Huss, appointed by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, started her evaluation of the dogs last week. The animals have been held in shelters in Virginia since April, when they were seized in a raid on Vick's property in Surry County.
``Some of the dogs that showed no signs of aggression or threat are now with experienced foster families to allow further evaluation of the dogs,'' Huss said in a news release from Valparaiso University School of Law, where she is a professor.
Only established rescue groups will be eligible to take custody of the dogs, according to a court order in the case. It's possible that a dog classified as able to be placed may need to be euthanized if further evaluation shows that it is a danger to humans or other animals, or if officials can't find a proper setting, Huss said.
The applications must be returned to Huss no later than Nov. 12 so that U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors can inspect the sites where the dogs would be housed.
``If everything goes according to schedule, the dogs could be transferred to the rescue organizations before the end of the year,'' Huss said in the news release.
Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting charge and are to be sentenced before the end of the year. In a separate but related case, another man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the same charge and will be sentenced in January. They each face up to five years in prison.
Hudson earlier this month ordered one of 49 pit bulls seized to be euthanized after the dog displayed too much aggression to allow animal behavior experts to examine it. The order said experts determined the other 48 dogs have placement potential.
Vick and his co-defendants still face state charges.
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On the Net:
Rescue Organization Application: http://www.valpo.edu/law/assets/docs/RescueOrganizationApplication.pdf
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