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Dog guilty of mauling boy gets life sentence in ‘animal jail’

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PHOENIX (KPHO) -- Mickey, a dog that mauled a 4-year-old Phoenix boy, was sentenced to life behind bars in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's no-kill animal shelter on Tuesday, according to KPHO.

Judge Deborah Griffith also ordered that the pit bull be de-fanged and micro-chipped and that he will not be adopted or fostered out. Mickey has already been neutered since mauling Kevin Vicente in February as the boy tried to take the dog's bone.

Griffith rejected a request from attorneys representing the dog to donate the $2,500 it will cost to de-fang the dog to Kevin and his family to help with medical expenses.

Arpaio agreed to keep Mickey for the rest of the dog's life and to appear annually for a status conference on Mickey. Mickey will be kept behind bars and isolated from the general public and other animals in the MASH shelter.

He also agreed that no taxpayer money would be used to train inmates on how to handle the dog.

Arpaio said many of the inmates are trained in how to handle "vicious" dogs and that there is about $200,000 in donations to help maintain the MASH shelter.

Arpaio formed the MASH shelter in 2000 after an animal cruelty case in which he termed the animals the "true victims." He renovated a section of the First Avenue Jail that is now air conditioned and can comfortably house the animals.

The case got international attention after a heated debate on social media about the cause for the attack and the fate of the pit bull.

A judge said the dog was vicious, but ruled against euthanization.

Mickey had been staying at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control Shelter. Griffith said the MCACC will not be held for any future incidents.

"That dog is going to do a life sentence in the jail, but a nice life sentence with good food, air conditioning, his own room," Arpaio said. "I mean what else, but being loved by the inmates and detention officers?"

Mickey mauled Kevin while at his babysitter's home in February when the boy tried to take away the dog's bone. Kevin has gone through extensive surgeries, had a broken jaw and lost an eye.

Griffith made the decision in late March that while Mickey would not be euthanized, he must be neutered, defanged, microchipped and never adopted out.

Arpaio then announced via his Twitter, "My jail for animals may get a new lifetime resident, Mickey the pit bull. Inmates will care for him and not a taxpayer cent will be used."


  • Jesse

    While I feel really bad for this boys’ family it truly was an accident. This dog wasn’t being vicous it was protecting his bone. At least he won’t be put to sleep.

  • a

    I totally agree, any dog would protect his bone that doesn’t mean they are viscous. That’s sad for the boy but very sad that the dog has to be punished for a natural reaction

  • Jamie

    My Dachshund has snapped and bit at me when I tried to get a bone from him (he somehow got a chicken bone out of the trash) but that doesn’t mean he’s vicious. He’s just doing what dogs do – protective instinct. The parents should have taught the boy not to try to take a bone/toys/food out of a dogs mouth. It’s not the dogs fault but the parents for lack of teaching. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel bad and sad for the boy & his family but it was an accident.

  • Anna Bromley

    Do they mean what I think they mean by “de-fanging” him? Seriously? Would you rip out your child’s teeth for biting at preschool? This dog needs to go to a rehab and find a loving home without children, plain and simple.

    • Lee Goins

      since we don’t know what you think it means, let me tell you….they are going to take-out all 4 fang teeth…2 on the top and the 2 on the bottom.

    • Megan Finney

      I feel bad the boys family but the boy should be taught not to take thing s from the dog specially a pit bull dog and the dog good care and the dog should be punished for he did to the boy and the dog owner should pay for the medical experences

  • zach

    this is messed up just because the owners in all liklyhood did not know how to care for the dog the dog gets punished screw that ill go adopt the dog if they would let me i have 2 pits now and they are the nicest dogs i have ever owned.

  • Christian Brooke

    It’s sad for the boy but at the same time it’s not the DOGS fault!!!!! Taking his bone away from the dog and not being supervised along with not neutering the dog!!! Defanging the dog is just pitiful. That just pisses me off!!!!

  • Gregg

    What in the world is wrong with you people!!. If a dog attacks a child regardless of the reason, it should be put to death. Used to be that way when people had more common sense. This little 4 yr old child has suffered trauma, surgeries, the loss of an eye and these idiots are worried about making sure the animal is comfortable. Wow!!!

    • ZFoxy

      When I was a kid, I snatched a bone from our family cocker spaniel and got my just desserts. She latched onto my hand like a crocodile, but she was aiming for my face. After mom found out what happened, I got punished and the dog’s quiet place was moved so I wouldn’t do it again. In short, it happens. I feel sorry for the child, but its not the dogs fault and he shouldn’t have to be treated as if he’s vicious getting defanged and crap. Who defangs a dog? I don’t care if they pull his teeth or file them down. It sounds sickening.
      The owner and the parents are at fault. The owner could’ve taught the dog to be less possessive. Since my childhood experience I have taught my own dog to simply drop what he is holding around other people. I make a point of laying next to him and putting my hand over high-value treats so it desensitizes him to believing it will be taken away. Now even the cat can sleep next to him without a thought of being growled or snapped at. If it happens, I’d rather it be my hand than a toddler.
      And parents were insane for leaving their child unsupervised around a dog long enough for this to happen.

  • Jesse

    What is wrong with people is that this dog was doing what a dog does. Animal instinct. As I said, I do feel bad for the child however you cant take food/bone/toy from a dogs mouth. Maybe the babysitter/parents are responsbile for this but that dog does not deserve to die or be defanged.

  • EJR

    I’m just glad the pitbull is going to live. too many were at fault. The owners of the dog should be responsible for the expenses since the babysitter left the child alone with the dog. That’s a big no-no with all breeds, not just pitbulls. The parents should have taught the child how too act around a dog as well – period. the babysitter should have been reinforcing that as well.

  • BJ

    This without a doubt is one if the most ignorant sentences ever handed down by a so called Judge. The dog was doing what dogs do protecting its food. Who in their right freaking mind allows a 4 year old little baby whose life has now been changed forever in the same area where the dog is eating. Who?! It sounds like a lot more needs to be addressed here then is being done. The Judge and I use the term lightly here is ignoring the real issue and taking the easy way out for her and it appears having herself some personal fun along the way by
    torturing a dumb animal and calling it justice. Only in Maricopa County Arizona!

  • Kay

    That is wrong and cruel. Animal cruelty right there be defanging him. All dogs protect their food…bones and even toys. You must tell the child not to take the dogs bone. How would the child feel if the parent took away their food?

  • cory

    My question is where was this so called “babysitter” the whole time? Yes its sad what happened and I’m also happy that the dog wont be put down but what kind of punishment is the babysitter going to receive? I feel the family and the babysitter are more to blame then the animal. Maybe now they will rethink who watches their child but to be honest I highly doubt that. This is one more bad act by a human that’s creating a bad name for pits. Punish the human not the animal for a natural reaction. I know this comment will upset most but to be honest I don’t care. Enough is enough for animals getting punished when its the humans fault.

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