SACRAMENTO (AP) — California will no longer label dogs seized from illegal fighting rings as “vicious,” making safe rescue dogs more likely to get adopted.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday to give dogs with cruel owners a chance at rehabilitation.

AB1825 allows animal sanctuaries, veterinarians and others to judge dogs’ behavior before labeling them.

State law classifies as vicious any dog that hurts a person without provocation. It previously included dogs from fighting rings whose owners are convicted of felony dog fighting.

Lawmakers say the label is often a death sentence.

If they’re not put down by animal control units, the law requires owners to license and confine dogs deemed vicious.

Democratic Assemblyman Rich Gordon of Menlo Park says California was one of eleven states that categorized animals that way.

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