Mickey the pit bull arrives at sheriff's shelter

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio took full custody of Mickey the pit bull Thursday afternoon.

Phoenix Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffith ruled Tuesday that the dog, who mauled a 4-year-old boy earlier this year, be housed in the sheriff's MASH Unit.

In 1998, Arpaio had the First Avenue Jail converted into the MASH Unit, a no-kill shelter for abused and neglected animals.

Mickey will live in a large cell and visit the outdoor recreation area on the jail's roof. He will be cared for by inmates.

Arpaio said he purchased two dog treadmills for the recreation area with money from the sling he auctioned off after he broke his shoulder.

The sheriff said he received emails from people asking him to save Mickey and offered to take the dog.

"I think it only made common sense," he said. "I think I did my duty. I have the facilities here. Why not extend the invitation?"

Kevin Vicente was attacked Feb. 20 outside his baby sitter's house near Central Avenue and Broadway Road in south Phoenix. Mickey was chewing on a bone when the boy tried to take it away. Kevin has been undergoing surgeries for broken bones in his face.

Griffith declared the dog vicious at a March hearing following a national debate over the dog's fate. The judge declined to have Mickey euthanized and instead ordered he be defanged, neutered and microchipped. She also said the 4-year-old dog cannot be adopted.

"I've got to give the judge some credit for saving the dog's life," Arpaio said.

To show the judge and the public the kind of care Mickey will receive, Arpaio said he plans to put cameras in Mickey's cell and stream the video online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We want everybody to know how we're taking care of him," he said.

Mickey's attorney, John Schill, said he is happy with the dog's new home.

"This is a very good facility. Mickey is 100 percent safe. There's been several death threats on Mickey. Nothing's going to happen to him here," he said. "This is far better than any of the alternatives I looked at for Mickey."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.