PITTSBURG, Calif. - Another attack by a newly adopted dog is renewing questions about practices at Contra Costa Animal Services.
"He shook it so hard, it was like a little toy," Jose Axume told KTVU, describing how a pit bull grabbed his 6 pound Maltese named Teddy.
It happened July 3 in front of an ice cream store in Pittsburg, and KTVU has learned the aggressive dog was adopted out that same day with no behavioral testing before it was released.
"That's not right, that's not right, somebody should have checked that dog," Marleni Axume told KTVU, recalling how the dog bounded around the building where she was waiting with Teddy on a leash.
"I was fighting with the dog, I was trying to save my dog from the dog's mouth," she recounted.
Jose ran from inside the Baskin Robbins and tried to free Teddy from the dog's jaws.
"I brought it down to the ground, put my full weight on the ground and started hitting it," Jose said, "I hit that pit bull really hard, a lot of times."
Into the fray came the dog's owner who had somehow lost control of its leash. The dog had calmed by the time animal control arrived.
"A lady like that shouldn't have had a dog that big and that strong, those dogs are all muscle," declared Jose.
The adopter had taken the four- year- old pit bull named Bridget that same day from the shelter.
"They are in a push to get the dogs out, " KTVU was told last month by Leiv Arnesen of Benicia, who was nursing dozens of deep wounds.
The German Shepherd he and his wife adopted from the Martinez shelter mauled him the next day.
As it turned out, that dog was so agitated during its shelter stay, that staff hadn't been able to get close to evaluate it.
"We all want to do the right thing and the right thing is to save animals," CCAS Medical Director Dr. Rick Bachman told KTVU last month, expressing concerns that behavioral evaluations are in consistent, especially when the shelter is pushing to find homes for as many dogs as possible.
"You would like to have a dog leave the shelter into a new home either with no dings or with dings that have been described and you know what you're getting."
It's unlikely the Oakley woman who adopted Bridget knew what she was getting because during Bridget's one month shelter stay, she never got the evaluation that might have revealed "dog on dog" aggression.
"I thought they were supposed do some some kind of exams, some kind of dog psychology exams, I don't know," mused Jose, "but it's a pit bull!"
The Axumes are left with a letter from the veterinarian where they rushed Teddy.
It describes massive injuries to his sternum and ribs, too much internal damage to even x-ray. There was nothing they could no.
"We loved our dog so much," said Marleni, sadly. "He was part of our family."
And the couple is left questioning if their dog might be alive if adoption guidelines were more stringent.
"We get home and there's nobody home, nobody at the door when we open it," reflected Jose, "it's difficult because he was like, our kid."
It's unclear why Bridget did not receive any temperament testing at the shelter, but CCAS Director Beth Ward has said she is short-staffed and needs to hire more behaviorists.
Bridget was returned to the shelter and euthanized after the attack.