Mickey the Pit Bull Goes Home to Jail, Courtesy of a Controversial Sheriff
The story of Mickey, the Pit Bull who attacked and maimed four-year-old Kevin Vicente in Phoenix, Arizona, was one of the most controversial issues that we've covered recently. It's not surprising; Pit Bull lovers are very passionate and defensive about the bad press that the breed gets; on the other hand, a four-year old child received severely traumatic injuries that will probably stay with him for life. The mix of those two are extremely volatile.
The next step in Mickey's story happened this week, and it involved someone who is even more controversial than Mickey: Joe Arpaio, the extremely controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. "Controversial" is the polite, journalistic way of putting it: Arpaio's law-and-order policies have favored the authoritarian, racist, and unconstitutional.
While the conditions in Arpaio's jails have been deemed unhealthy and unconstitutional for humans, Mickey's supporters were pleased to hear that the dog will be spending the rest of his life in one. Sheriff Arpaio volunteered to take Mickey into the MCSO Safe Animal Haven (MASH) Unit, a no-kill shelter which is located in a former jail. About 70 dogs and cats live in the unit, and are cared for by inmates. The difference between Mickey and the other dogs in the MASH is that he's going to be there as long as he lives; part of the judge's conditions for sparing his life was that no one would be allowed to adopt him.
Veronica Lee, one of Mickey's supporters who attended the hearing, said that "I think this decision is fabulous. I think that Mickey will finally have the justice he deserved." Judging by the postings on the Facebook "Save Mickey" page, her sentiments were shared by many of her fellow supporters.
One of the judge's initial concerns was what would happen to Mickey if Arpaio were to leave office and the MASH Unit were to close. The 81-year-old Arpaio responded, "I expect to be the sheriff forever." Regardless of age, though, the idea that Arpaio might leave office soon is not that far-fetched, since he's expected to announce his candidacy for governor of Arizona in two weeks. When pressed on the point, he claimed that any sheriff who did close down the shelter wouldn't get re-elected. "As long as I'm the sheriff, nobody is touching my MASH unit," Arpaio told reporters. "The judge's concern was what if I'm not the sheriff. I think it would continue if the new guy or gal is smart. I know I want the dog and let's see what the future brings."
As part of his sentence, Mickey will also be defanged, neutered, and microchipped, and although the matter of custody has been settled, the judge ordered that a status conference be held in six months, and then annually thereafter.