MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis woman is hoping her dog can help save other canines from a dangerous and often deadly situation. Dog fighting is now a felony in all 50 states, but Cindy Schlichting believes more needs to be done to stop it.

It was a painful journey for Schlichting’s dog Bella who was intentionally abused to help train other pit bulls to fight. Many in Bella’s situation don’t survive but she ended up at a loving home thanks to one picture, and a compelling story.

“(Bella’s) been cut, and choked and we know she’s been kicked by some of the bruises on her body when she arrived at rescue,” says Schlicting who adopted her pit bull in 2010 with her husband Brian. “She’s really suffered at the hands of humans.”

Bella still bears the scars of dog fighting. Her teeth were either filed or pulled to protect the fighting dogs she was used to train.

“Most dogs don’t get Bella’s outcome. Most (bait dogs) die in the pit,” says Schlicting. “It makes you furious. It makes you feel sad.”

Cindy saw Bella’s picture on Facebook and the pit bull’s story convinced the couple to fly to North Carolina to adopt Bella.

“She was sitting in the back of a van looking out the window, and it was the most hopeless, sad picture that I had ever seen and the story attached to it broke my heart,” she says.

To this day, Bella is very timid around anyone new. Although she has been beaten and battered, Bella has a safe new home and also new life.

“She feels joy, to be able to give that to her and in return she gives it back to us,” says Cindy. “She’s a miracle to us.”

Cindy has self-published a book entitled “As Bright As The Sun” about how Bella has changed their life. She hopes it will bring more attention to the dangers of dog fighting and ultimately uncover more of this underground and illegal behavior.

Watching a dog fight is a felony in about half of the United States. In Minnesota it’s a misdemeanor. That sentence is up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.