A Phoenix judge touched off a fresh round of controversy after sparing the life of a pit bull that mauled a 4-year-old boy last month. Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin ruled that the dog named Mickey must be neutered, defanged and microchipped. She had previously declared the dog vicious, and could have ordered euthanasia.
"There [must] be absolutely no possibility of the animal ever doing this to someone again," Griffin said, saying the dog must remain in a facility for the rest of its life and can't be adopted. The Lexus Project, a New York-based animal rights group and the dog's trustee, has 30 days to find a rehabilitation center or shelter to take Mickey. An animal advocate in court started to cry when hearing the dog would live.
The attack left Kevin Vicente with a broken eye socket and jaw, and he has years of reconstructive surgery ahead of him. The court did not appoint an advocate for Kevin's interests during the proceedings.
The pit bull who attacked Kevin, however, attracted a team of top death penalty lawyers, who organized candlelight vigils and riled up thousands of animal lovers on social media who blamed with the dog's owners and child's baby sitter.
Floridalma Vicente, Kevin's mother, said she is grateful for the outpouring of public support, but can't understand the support that emerged for the dog. "It disturbed me at first that they placed more value on an animal than on a child, and that made me feel very bad," Vicente told reporters. "If they don't care about [Kevin], well, I do."
Many of those in court disagreed with the judge's decision. "Who is going to see to it five years from now that this dog still hasn't been adopted out?" one onlooker said.