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Mickey the pit bull: Pit bull that mauled 4-year-old polarizes Internet debate
Mickey the pit bull escapes a death sentence after doing this to 4-year-old Kevin Vicente.

Mickey the Pit Bull – Sounds like the nickname of a scandalous lawbreaker. But the fate of Mickey, a pit bull declared “vicious” by a Phoenix judge, has sparked a raging Internet row between animal advocates on Mickey’s side, and justice-criers who say that what this dog did to a 4-year-old boy is unpardonable, and for that, the cruel canine must be put down.

According to CBS News on March 25, Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin on Tuesday “spared the life of a pit bull that mauled a 4-year-old boy last month and touched off a polarizing Internet debate on mercy, blame and animal violence.”

Griffin pardoned the dog from its potential death sentence, ruling that Mickey will not be euthanized, but must be “neutered, defanged and microchipped.” Mickey’s teeth are to be ground down, and he must remain institutionalized; the pit bull can never be adopted.

“There would be absolutely no possibility of the animal ever doing this to someone again,” Griffin said in her ruling.

On February 4, Mickey attacked 4-year-old Kevin Vicente, who was in his Phoenix home with the family dog and under the care of a babysitter. The pit bull's assault on Kevin left the toddler with a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and horrendous gashes to his face and body. Vicente has months, possibly years, of reconstructive surgeries ahead of him.

According to MyFoxPhoenix, little Kevin grabbed Mickey's bone away from him, but then dropped it when the pit bull snarled back. Kevin stood his ground, terrified at the growling dog. When Kevin didn’t back off, the pit bull went on the attack.

The petition to have Mickey put down was filed by Guadalupe Villa. Her boyfriend’s mother was the babysitter who was watching Kevin at the time of the attack. Villa said Mickey has a history of unprovoked violence against people and even other dogs. In the court document, Villa claims Mickey attacked and killed one of her own dogs.

The Lexus Project – a New York-based nonprofit animal rights group – has been raising money for Mickey’s legal defense. They have also been entrusted with Mickey, and per the court ruling, now have 30 days to find a shelter where Mickey will live out his life.

A Facebook "Save Mickey" page was started, and now has tens of thousands of supporters.

Kevin’s mother, Floridalma Vicente, is taken aback at the show of support, not for her son, but for the dog that left her boy deformed.

“It disturbed me at first that they placed more value on an animal than on a child, and that made me feel very bad,” the distraught mother said. “If they don't care about [Kevin], well, I do.”

The Daily Mail picks up the story:

Griffin said several people shared some responsibility for the attack. The judge pointed out that there was a “Beware of Dog” sign on the property's fence but the gate was left open and children were allowed to play near the dog.

“This whole case has been very, very distressing to me,” Griffin said, adding that Kevin will pay the price for the rest of his life.

A half dozen animal rights advocates attended the hearing in T-shirts that bore a paw mark and a slogan, “Save Mickey.”

One of them, Veronica Lee, said the hearing showed that the baby sitter wasn't watching closely and that Mickey was kept chained.

“We were not here to put a dog above Kevin,” Lee said. “We were just here to make sure justice was served.”

Was justice served in your opinion? Where do you fall on this issue? Leave your comments below.

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