Mickey the pit bull has been given a life sentence behind bars for mauling a 4-year-old Arizona boy last month and will have his canine teeth ground down. The judge could have had the dog euthanized.
In addition to having the pit bull's teeth ground down, Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin on Tuesday ordered that the dog be neutered, microchipped, and relocated to an appropriate facility where it would no longer pose a threat to people.
The dog attacked Kevin Vicente on Feb. 20, leaving him with a broken eye socket and jaw which will require months of reconstructive surgery to repair, the Associated Press reported
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In many dog attack cases the animal is euthanized, but in the Phoenix case a group of animal rights advocates took up the dog's case and hired a legal team to prevent its death.
The animal's advocates argued that the dog was not given appropriate socialization and was restrained on a chain for most of his life. An attorney claimed a babysitter was irresponsible for leaving the child unsupervised with the dog.
Animal activists have held candlelight vigils and collected signatures in petition drives to sway public opinion in the dog's favor. The dog's supporters also pushed the issue in social media with a Facebook page
that garnered more than 66,000 likes as of Wednesday morning, the AP noted.
Attorney John Schill countered the narrative that by advocating on behalf of the dog the animal advocates were putting a dog's life above that of a child by saying they were trying to prevent the unnecessary killing of a dog.
"This is not Kevin versus Mickey," Schill told AZFamily.com.
"Having Micky killed is not going to take away Kevin's pain or injuries. The only thing this is going to do is kill a poor, innocent dog."
"I think we accomplished a goal. We saved Mickey," Schill added.
In her ruling, the judge prohibited the dog from being adopted or fostered at any point in its life, so that, "There would be absolutely no possibility of the animal ever doing this to someone again."
The boy's mother, Floridalma Vicente – an immigrant from Guatemala – reportedly quit her job as a motel housekeeper to care for him, according to The Arizona Republic
Vicente couldn’t comprehend the support the dog had received from the community.
"It disturbed me at first that they placed more value on an animal than on a child, and that made me feel very bad," Vicente told the Republic through a Spanish interpreter. "If they don't care about (Kevin), well, I do."
The animal rights' advocates, who are currently the trustees for the dog, reportedly have 30 days in which to find a shelter or rehabilitation center for the dog.
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