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 have 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 argue 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 hoping to rescue Mickey have taken 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 organize a candlelight vigil and even a YouTube video plea.