ST. PETERSBURG — Like many Boston terriers, 10-year-old Max loved to chase squirrels.
So his owner, 80-year-old Jean Post, made sure to take him out before dawn when the critters were still resting.
On Sunday, Max's obsession to chase cost him his life. In the early morning darkness, two stocky, powerful dogs thought to be pit bullterriers shot out of the shadows and pounced on Max. The larger of the two fastened his jaws around the little terrier's neck and shook his head, tossing his victim in the air.
Post screamed and inserted her index finger into the dog's mouth, trying to get him to let go. But the attacker only chomped down on her finger.
"I knew my dog was dead right away,'' Post said. "He didn't want anything to do with me. He just wanted my dog.''
By now she was hysterical.
"I kept cussing at him saying, 'You damn dog, why are you killing my dog?' '' Post said.
Finally, after about three minutes, the attacking dog dropped Max's limp body on the ground. He stood over it, panting.
"When he was sure the dog was dead, then he just walked away,'' Post said.
It was quiet in the neighborhood. Post yelled and yelled, but nobody came for the longest while, she said.
"She was screaming for her life and for her dog,'' said her daughter Jenny Hubbard, 45. "It was their baby.''
Finally, a man from a nearby gas station responded and called 911, and Post said St. Petersburg police and Animal Services soon arrived.
Neighbors, she said, told Animal Services officials where the dogs lived, and a sign was placed on the door informing the presumed owners that their dogs had been impounded. Animal Services representatives could not be reached Sunday.
Post was taken to Edward White Hospital, where she was treated for three bites to her index finger and given a tetanus shot.
Sitting at home on Sunday afternoon, Post was still in shock.
She sat on a couch on the sunporch and held a photo of Max. She kissed it and wept.
His favorite toy, a yellow platypus with an orange bill and webbed feet, lay on the carpet nearby.
She and her husband, John Post, 80, adopted Max when he was 3 from a Boston terrier rescue group. He had come from Rhode Island.
Post said that when the two set off well before 6 a.m. from her condo at 6100 12th St. S, she wanted to go across the street to the park, but as they began to leave Max caught the scent of something in the darkness.
He pulled Post left toward the Sweetbay Supermarket at 955 62nd Ave. S, sniffing the air. Post felt something wasn't right, but let her dog have his way. After all, he was on a leash. Safe, she thought.
He went in the direction of the grocery store, and the two ended up walking on the sidewalk in front of it. Then, without a sound, Max's attackers arrived.
"He was very sweet and very funny,'' she said of her lost dog. "He knew every word we said.''
John Post was dismayed that the two dogs were roaming. He was angry. He wants to sue. "This was murder,'' he said.
Eileen Schulte can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153.