PHOENIX -- A county judged ordered a dog that mauled a Phoenix boy into the custody of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday.
The dog, Mickey, will be placed in Arpaio's MASH unit, a no-kill shelter that is home to about 70 cats and dogs that are cared for by inmates. Arpaio will be required to offer a status update on the dog every six months.
"Once we get (the animals) in here, we take care of them -- inmates take care of them -- most of the food is by donation, most of the equipment is by donation," said MCSO Lt. Brandon Jones.
The goal of the program is to rehabilitate the animals and eventually help find foster families for them.
Mickey however, will be the first dog into the MASH Unit that is under a life sentence and cannot be put up for adoption.
Jones said Mickey will be housed in a former inmate recreation area, which gives him more room than any other cells at MASH, and he will not have any physical contact with the other dogs at the facility.
Jones also said that using inmates to care for the animals has had a positive effect on both the inmates and animals.
"(Inmates) can show them love (and) they get love back," Jones said.
The judge, however, is concerned about a possible run for governor by Arpaio, who is expected to address his candidacy in two weeks.
"As long as I'm the sheriff, nobody is touching my MASH unit," Arpaio said. "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."
The judge is concerned about a possible run for governor by Arpaio, who is expected to address his candidacy in two weeks.
Melissa Gable of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control said Mickey has not exhibited any other vicious behavior since the February attack.
"In general, you walk by, he doesn't charge his kennel, he doesn't bark excessively," Gable said. "When several of us that he recognizes come by, his tail starts to wag; he gets very wiggly. He'll sit for treats."
Despite Mickey's congenial disposition, Gable said she and the staff still remain on high alert whenever they interact with him.
"I still don't know how comfortable I would be if I had to get into the kennel with him," she said. "I think we still all approach him with some level of caution, just because of the circumstances."
Last month, Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin declared the dog vicious and ruled that it must be neutered, defanged and microchipped. She could have ordered euthanasia.
The Feb. 20 attack left 4-year-old Kevin Vicente with a broken eye socket and jaw. An adult who was at the scene asked that the dog be euthanized.
Thousands of animal lovers took to social media to support Mickey, placing blame with the dog's owners and child's baby sitter.
Arpaio denied he wanted the dog for publicity reasons.
KTAR's Martha Maurer, Jim Cross, Mark Remillard and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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