Mickey the pit bill has been spared by a judge in a controversial case that pit a dog’s right to live against the devastating mauling of a four-year-old boy.
Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin ruled Tuesday that Mickey would not be euthanized if he lived the rest of his life in a facility and was neutered, defanged, and microchipped.
"There would be absolutely no possibility of the animal ever doing this to someone again," Griffin said.
The case brought thousands of animal rights advocates together on social media. Candlelight vigils have been held in support for Mickey. A half-dozen advocates wearing “Save Mickey” t-shirts applauded the verdict, while one broke down in tears.
Lawyers on Mickey’s side argued that adults are to blame for the attack, in which a babysitter neglected to watch Kevin carefully and the boy strayed to the side of the chained-up dog, who was left in a yard with an open gate.
New York-based animal rights group the Lexus Project has 30 days to find a rehab center for Mickey, their canine trustee.
Meanwhile, Kevin Vincente is in the hospital with a broken eye socket and jaw. The 4-year-old has received his own outpouring of donations and support. His mother, Floridalma Vicente, says she appreciates all the support “with all her heart” but was not sure how to react to Mickey's impassioned following.
“It disturbed me at first that they (Mickey's supporters) placed more value on an animal than on a child, and that made me feel very bad,” Vincente, who is from Guatemala, told the Arizona Republic. "If they don't care about him (Kevin), well, I do."
The child’s recovery is expected to take months, if not years.
"What do I do for him? Who can I hold on to? I wish that it had happened to me instead of him," said the 28-year-old single mom, who has had to quit her job as a hotel housekeeper to stay by Kevin’s side.
Supporters have donated over $30,000 to Kevin's care via the Maricopa Health Foundation.