MONMOUTH COUNTY - The Monmouth County family that nursed an abused dog back to health will get to keep him indefinitely, a judge ruled Thursday.

The Scavelli family has cared for Patrick the Dog since he was found abandoned at the bottom of a trash chute more than two years ago. Patrick's former owner, Kisha Curtis, was sentenced to 18 months' probation on abuse and neglect charges.

The pit bull that became the poster "pooch" for animal abuse is now healthy and plays with his new family. He weighs 51 pounds, up 32 pounds from when he was found in March 2011.

Curtis was apologetic for her actions, and the family believes she now understands her wrongs.

Patrick's battle for survival spurred the state Legislature to pass "Patrick's Law," which toughened punishment for animal abuse.