US judge spares dog's life after brutal attack

2014-03-26 09:47
Four-year-old Kevin Vicente’s road to recovery after a dog mauling. (AP)

Four-year-old Kevin Vicente’s road to recovery after a dog mauling. (AP)

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Phoenix - A judge in Arizona on Tuesday spared the life of a pit bull that mauled a 4-year-old boy last month and touched off a polarising Internet debate on mercy, blame and animal violence.

Municipal court judge Deborah Griffin ruled that the dog named Mickey must be neutered defanged and micro-chipped.

"There would 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.

An animal rights group is the trustee for the dog and has 30 days to find a rehabilitation centre or shelter to take Mickey. An animal advocate in court started to cry when hearing the dog would live.

The 20 February attack left Kevin Vicente with a broken eye socket and jaw, and the boy has months, if not years, of reconstructive surgery ahead of him.

Blame owners

Floridalma Vicente, the boy's mother, had to quit her job as a motel housekeeper to care for him, according to The Arizona Republic.

A single mother with two other children back in her native Guatemala, Vicente said she is grateful for the outpouring of public support. But she can't understand the support that has 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."

The question of whether the pit bull should live or die attracted a team of top death penalty lawyers, led to candlelight vigils and riled up thousands of animal lovers on social media who placed blame with the dog's owners and child's baby sitter.

Guadalupe Villa, one of the adults at the scene, filed the vicious-dog court petition that started the case. In her petition, she describes Mickey as a dog that has a history of acting without provocation and that killed one of her dogs.

Animal advocates hit back, saying both the dog and boy are victims and the baby sitter watching the child was negligent in letting him play near the animal. They also argued the owner was fostering aggression by keeping the dog chained up.

Pit bulls are viewed by some as a dangerous breed, a reputation their fans dispute.

Those who had hoped to rescue Mickey took their cause to Facebook, where a Save Mickey page has garnered more than 59 000 likes. The dog's supporters recently used social media to organise a candlelight vigil and even a YouTube video plea.

"This is not Kevin versus Mickey", said attorney John Schill, one of three attorneys representing the dog in the court petition. "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."

The dog has been living in a cage away from other animals and from public view. According to Gable, that hasn't stopped some people from showing up and trying to see him. The facility has also received numerous phone calls from people pleading against euthanizing him.
Read more on:    us  |  animals  |  dog attacks

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