A harrowing dog attack in Cayucos

June 14, 2022

Dell Franklin and Wilbur

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


My brown Lab, Wilbur, who is 90 pounds and officially 15 ½ years old, and limps badly from a wobbly hind leg supported by doses of CBD, was attacked viciously and violently the other morning along the seawall.

This doesn’t happen in Cayucos. This is not supposed to happen in Cayucos, which is dog heaven for residents and visitors alike. But it happened, and when it did I felt immediately plunged into a war zone, an incomprehensible out-of-control chaos that horrified me to the core.

Holding onto my leash, I watched a black dog of no more than 50 pounds leap from beside its owner’s side over the wall and come at Wilbur, fangs bared, eyes wild, and attack him.

Wilbur, who was abandoned in Los Angeles and spent months on the streets. as well as four months in a Lab rehab down south, is a rescue (and a warrior who has subdued attacking dogs before without harming them), immediately defended himself, except that his back legs collapsed so that he had no leverage, and the black dog’s jaws caught him by the snout and began biting down viciously.

This was when I began screaming at the man who had been sitting beside his dog to get his ass in gear, and he began trying to separate the jaws of his dog from my dog’s snout, with no success. By this time, two of my seawall friends, Anthony and Mark, were screaming at the guy, who began punching the side of his dog’s head.

This went on and on, and on, all of us screaming.

Had I owned a gun, which I don’t, I would have shot the dog, as by this time Wilbur had flopped down on his side like a lifeless hulk, utterly silent but realizing he was in an impossible situation. I cannot express what lacerates you emotionally as you watch your old, defenseless dog experience this punishment, this violence.

By this time, I was possibly threatening to dismember the owner of this dog and on the verge of stepping aside and kicking the black dog in the ribs as hard as possible when there was finally separation—perhaps a full minute after the attack.

Wilbur lay on his side, quiet, completely still, surprisingly calm while I blistered the owner who pulled his dog away and went over the seawall without stopping to observe the possible damage to Wilbur’s face. I blistered him with profanity, told him to “put his dog down before it killed a smaller dog,” that he was lucky Wilbur’s a warrior, and to get the fuck off the beach and out of my sight, and that he was lucky I was almost 80 and not 20 years younger.

Fortunately, Wilbur’s nose and eyes were unmarked, and evidently the dog had him by the cheek. He was still on his leash and after checking him out, as did my friends and several onlookers, I nudged him up to his feet and he acted as if absolutely nothing had happened while everybody petted him and told him what a brave guy he was, etc. etc.

All the way home and up the slight hill, he limped and wobbled along, and I gave him treats along the way. His cheek was swelling and tender to the touch. I got him home and swabbed the cheek with alcohol and gave him some CBD.

Later that night, the cheek swelled up more. I heard him whimpering on his roost, so I wrapped an Ibuprofen pill in peanut butter and he ate it and went to sleep and awakened the next morning ready to eat and visit Lowell, the handy man at the Shoreline Motel, for the first round of treats awaiting him as he made his way to the seawall, where his friends would be awaiting him with still more treats.

He was just fine.

The attack wasn’t personal with him, but it was with me.

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I am happy to hear that Wilbur is ok. I have been in that same spot and it is terrifying to watch. My dog was leashed, the other dog was not, came out of bushes and attacked. It was chaos for a few minutes and my dog had a torn ear and was shook! He is still bothered by some dogs, as am I. I now carry a pocket knife and pepper spray in my dog bag, and will use both if needed. Anyone who says they would not, have not seen their dogs head in another dogs mouth!

Dogs only know what you teach them. Respond with excitement your dog will too. I have a feeling the other dogs owner was tensing up because he knew a possible outcome from his dog and his dog was responding to it. I’ve met Wilbur a few times and never have seen him react badly. If you know your dog reacts to other animals, please do not take them where other animals may be. If you need help, get help. punching his dog prob. made his dog even more determined to stay latched on. I have seen dogs accidently latch on to people and that instant look of regret and boy am I in trouble now when it realized, oopsie thats a human. I could be wrong here but owned dogs all my life and the majority have been deemed an ‘aggressive breed’ but not once acted that way because they have been taught the right way and right places for correct response to situations. Love ya Wilbur, rescues are the best!

I’ve been there. Ended up spending the better part of the day in jail. My little feline buddy was killed and I handled it. Ten years of a 12021 prohibition on firearms ownership. After that joined the Army, three deployments and 16 years later, issue expunged, and it still follows me around, but I had to try and save my friend. I’m glad Wilbur is OK.

I’m not sure why some dog owners refuse to keep their dogs on a tight leash but they should be ticketed on sight…..

I had a mixed Shepard attack me one day and the owner seemed angry at me for it….

If you want to walk your dog off leash take it to the desert….. not the damn beach….

Leashed dogs are not less aggressive. They tend to be more aggressive when challenged. Taking leashed dogs on the beach does not necessarily mean a blissful outing is in store for all around them.

Dog owners should know their dogs tendencies. This dogs behavior probably was no surprise to the owner.

Aggressive animals, leashed or not, should not be taken out in public.

Cezar Milan would say don’t blame the dogs. Blame their owners.

Dogs who are reactive towards other dogs are controlled on a leash. Any dog off leash has the ability to start a situation that can go bad. If all the dogs are on a leash, owners can take the precautions of keeping distance.

All dogs on Morro Bay and Cayucos beaches should be leashed. It’s the law. The selfishness of the entitled dog owners who let their dogs off leash illegally is astounding. It takes away the ability for dogs who can’t be off leash, and their owners, from being able to enjoy the legal ability to walk on the beach.

“Had I owned a gun”….my lord, what a nutcase. Emotions run amuck is just the standard these days, smh.

in many states, there are laws at protecting “livestock” from harm. Courts have ruled this applies to domestic pets. Shooting an aggressive animal trying to kill your animal is justified. In a previous state I lived and it was legal, I always carried concealed in case this happens after I witnessed my own dog attacked.

If people would earn how to read their dogs body language then you will know when your dog is uncomfortable and have a better chance to prevent a dog fight before it even occurs. Dogs communicate with eachother through body language and they feed into body language that humans are giving off. Unfortunately there’s too many people that ignore or don’t understand the body language their dog gives off. A wagging tail doesn’t mean the dog won’t be reactive you need to pay attention to all of the body language.

Glad that Wilbur will be all right. Give him a scritch from us dog lovers in South County!

Responsible dog owners need to learn the correct techniques to effectively break up a dog fight. Panic, yelling, screaming, trying to pry a dog’s jaws open, and striking the aggressor animal with fists isn’t going to do the job. Additionally, after a violent attack with potentially nasty bites and shake injuries sustained, perhaps a visit to a veterinarian is prudent for proper assessment and treatment of the injured animal.

While understandable… this incident was only made worse by everyone’s panicked reactions; dogs often reflect human energy and a calmer approach yields best results. Gotta be smarter than the dogs people… y’all more or less joined the fight :/