A judge in a Phoenix courtroom will, on Tuesday, decide the fate of Mickey, a pit bull who mauled a 4-year-old boy last month as he was playing with a friend in his yard, in a case that has attracted a team of top death penalty lawyers.
Kevin Vicente was attacked by the dog on Feb. 20 at his home near Central Avenue and Broadway Road, leaving the boy with a broken eye socket and jaw, with months of reconstructive surgery ahead of him.
“This is not Kevin versus Mickey,” John Schill, one of three attorneys representing the dog in the court petition, told Associated Press, or AP. “Having Mickey killed is not going to take away Kevin’s pain or injuries. The only thing this is going to do is kill a poor, innocent dog.”
According to AP, Guadalupe Villa, a person present at the scene, filed a court petition that launched the case.
In her petition, she reportedly accused Mickey of killing one of her dogs and that the dog had a history of acting without provocation. The judge will decide whether Mickey should live or die, a question that has led to a vociferous Internet debate with animal advocates reportedly arguing that the dog and the boy are both victims, and that the babysitter watching the child was negligent in letting him play near the animal.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control told local media that the judge may rule that the dog can live as long as it wears a muzzle or is restrained in some other way, or it could also be sent to a "rescue group" in another state.
“We have said if the court deems that Mickey should not be euthanized, we are working to find an appropriate outlet for him,” Melissa Gable, a center spokeswoman, reportedly said, adding: “We’re trying to do what we can, but we’re just the bad guy in this situation.”
According to AP, Floridalma Vicente, the boy’s mother, who had to quit her job as a motel housekeeper to look after her son, reportedly said that she could not understand the support that had 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 the Republic through a Spanish interpreter. “If they don’t care about (Kevin), well, I do.”