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From Vick dog to therapy dog

One of the dog's seized from Michael Vick's dogfighting ring is now working as a therapy dog in California, bringing comfort to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Leo -- a pit bull who was chained and trained to kill as one of the former NFL quarterback's dogs -- now makes the rounds at the Camino Infusion Center, as you can see in this MSNBC report.

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The transition took about five weeks.

"He is wonderful, and all the patients love Leo," said Paula Reed, the facility's oncology director. "They really love his eyes and gentleness."

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Leo was among the dogs seized when officers raided Vick's Bad Newz Kennels in Smithfield, Va., last year. They found dogs, some injured and scarred, chained to buried car axles. Forensic experts discovered remains of dogs that had been shot with a .22-caliber pistol, electrocuted, drowned, hanged or slammed to the ground for lacking a desire to fight.

Vick, an All-Pro quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was suspended indefinitely and is serving 23 months in federal prison after pleading guilty in August to bankrolling the dogfighting operation and helping to kill as many as eight dogs. Three co-defendants also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.

About 50 dogs were rescued.

One of the dogs seized at Bad Newz was put down as too aggressive, but the others were dispersed to sanctuaries and training facilities across the country.

One of them was Leo, who ended up in the care of Marthina McClay, a certified trainer and counselor in Los Gatos, near San Francisco. McClay is president of Our Pack, an advocacy group for pit bulls.

"He was a little like a caveman at a tea party," McClay said. "He didn't have a lot of training."

Leo also works with young people on probation at the Alternative Placement Academy in San Jose, where the young men seem to identify with the former tough guy.

"I think they saw this dog's awful background, and it communicates to the kids that you can end up being what you want to be," McClay said.

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