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Animal Law

Pit bull that mauled child is allowed to live, minus his fangs

Posted Mar 26, 2014 9:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Phoenix judge has ruled that a pit bull that mauled a 4-year-old boy may live, provided that the dog is defanged, neutered, microchipped and housed at a rehabilitation center or shelter.

The dog known as Mickey has galvanized supporters and detractors, report the Associated Press, the Arizona Republic and 3TV.

Supporters attended a court hearing on Tuesday wearing T-shirts with a paw mark and the “Save Mickey” slogan; a “Save Mickey” page on Facebook got 59,000 likes. Meanwhile a Facebook page has been set up on behalf of the 4-year-old Kevin Vicente, who is still hospitalized with facial injuries from the attack. The boy's feeding tube was recently removed.

Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffith gave lawyers 30 days to find a facility that will accept Mickey. Defanging will remove the dog’s four canine teeth, making it more difficult to maintain a grip on any prey, the Arizona Republic explains.

"This is a tragedy," Griffith said. "This is just horrible for this child, oh my goodness. But I think there are a lot of adults responsible."

Kevin Vincente was being cared for by a baby-sitter, the mother of Mickey’s owner, when the boy was attacked. The dog was on an 18-foot chain and a “beware of dog” sign was posted nearby. An animal behavior expert said Mickey showed signs of abuse and mistreatment, and chaining him to a pole likely created an exaggerated sense of territoriality.

Mickey’s trustee is the Lexus Project, a New York animal-rights group. He is apparently a lucky dog. According to the Arizona Republic, in the month that Mickey’s case was pending, nearly 450 other dogs in Maricopa County were euthanized for the same type of aggressive behavior.

Updated on March 27 to correct typo.

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