An Arizona judge, on April 29, ordered Mickey, the Pit Bull that mauled a 4-year-old Phoenix boy in February, to spend his life sentence in the custody of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Sheriff Joe said he wanted the dog in his Maricopa County MASH unit, a no-kill shelter that is home to about 70 cats and dogs that are cared for by inmates, according to KTAR News.
Called the Animal Safe Haven Unit, MASH was created by Sheriff Arpaio to house and care for animals that have been abused or neglected by their caretakers and rescued by the Animal Crimes Investigations Unit.
"Once we get (the animals) in here, we take care of them -- inmates take care of them -- most of the food is by donation, most of the equipment is by donation," said MCSO Lt. Brandon Jones. The goal of the program is to rehabilitate the animals and eventually help find foster families for them.
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Mickey however, will be the first dog into the MASH Unit that is under a life sentence and cannot be put up for adoption.
The Feb. 20 attack by Mickey left 4-year-old Kevin Vicente with a broken eye socket and jaw. An adult who was at the scene asked that the dog be euthanized. Although the boy survived the horrific bites and tears to his face, he will be scarred for life.
Investigators say that the little boy wandered into the neighbor's yard where Mickey was chewing on a bone. The boy went up to the dog and tried to take that bone out of the dog's mouth and that's when Mickey attacked him.
Family members took Kevin to the hospital, but when he arrived he was in shock from blood loss. Doctors were stunned by how severe the bite was. "A large amount of his face from his forehead to his jaw was ripped back, folded back over the ear, and the mandible having an obvious fracture to it. This one caught everybody off guard," said Dr. Jeffrey Salamone with Maricopa Medical Center.
Last month, Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin declared Mickey vicious and ruled that he must be neutered, defanged and microchipped and live in isolation for the remainder of his life.
Jones said Mickey will be housed in a former inmate recreation area, which gives him more room than any other cells at MASH,
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Jones explained that using inmates to care for the animals has had a positive effect on both the inmates and animals. "(Inmates) can show them love (and) they get love back," he said.
Melissa Gable of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said Mickey has not exhibited any other vicious behavior since the February attack, reports Fox News.
"In general, you walk by, he doesn't charge his kennel, he doesn't bark excessively," Gable said. "When several of us that he recognizes come by, his tail starts to wag; he gets very wiggly. He'll sit for treats."
Despite Mickey's congenial disposition, Gable said she and the staff still remain on high alert whenever they interact with him.
"I still don't know how comfortable I would be if I had to get into the kennel with him," she said. "I think we still all approach him with some level of caution, just because of the circumstances."
Animal lovers all over the world took to social media to support Mickey after the attack, placing blame with the dog's owners and child's baby sitter. A "Save Mickey" Facebook page has 70,000 likes, HLN-TV reports.
Sheriff Arpaio is required by the court to provide an update on Mickey’s status every six months. He denied he wanted the dog for publicity reasons.
The MASH location in the First Avenue Jail is air-conditioned, and the cells have been reconditioned to comfortably house animals. Some critics have said that it's inhumane to put dogs and cats in air-conditioned quarters when inmates don't have air conditioning.
One of the inmates assigned to care for the dogs was asked if she was resentful about not having air conditioning. She gestured to some of the dogs and said, "They didn't do anything wrong. I did."