STRATHAM, N.H. (CBS) – More than two dozen German Shepherds that have been in legal limbo for almost two years have taken a big step toward adoption. The 28 dogs have been held in protective custody at the New Hampshire SPCA while their owner was tried on animal cruelty charges.

Their former owner Jennifer Choate agreed to surrender the dogs on Wednesday as part of a plea agreement, the society said. She’ll plead guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and cannot breed dogs for five years in New Hampshire, but she also won’t have to pay more than $600,000 in restitution.

“This is the day we have been waiting on for far too long,” New Hampshire SPCA Executive Director Lisa Dennison said. “The system has failed them at every turn, but today we can finally celebrate that they are ours and soon they will be able to be adopted into loving, forever homes.”

During their 22 months in protective custody the dogs have not been allowed to be adopted, spayed or neutered. The society said the dogs were walked almost constantly “just to keep them from going stir crazy in their kennels.”

There are already hundreds of adoption applications for the dogs. The society is hoping to get the dogs to their forever homes by Thanksgiving.

The society is also calling for donations to make up for the cost of caring for the dogs. Anyone who wants to help can visit www.nhspca.org

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