Wayne Cummings’ cowboy boots are a bit gnawed and his denim jeans pant legs shredded but he’s alive
The 80-year-old Cummings — known for his work with horses and for promoting the now-defunct Manteca Rodeo held for years where Bass Pro Shops is now located — was knocked down and attacked Friday by a Pitbull belonging to a homeless man.
The attack happened near the backdoor of the Manteca Moose Lodge on North Main Street at Lancaster Drive.
The Pitbull pounced on Cummings’ back, knocking him to the ground. It then bit into his boot and wouldn’t let go.
Cummings said the dog’s owner — a homeless man known to sleep in an abandoned auto body shop just north of the Moose Lodge partially blocked from view of North Main by trees — struggled for three minutes or so to get his dog to let go. He said the dog appeared to weigh about 90 pounds.
By the time Manteca Animal Control officers arrived, Cummings said the homeless man had fled with his dog.
“I’m a tough old guy but I worry what would have happened if a lady or a child had been attacked,” Cummings said.
He noted that if he hadn’t been wearing cowboy boots and the dog hadn’t latched its jaws on them he could have sustained serious injury or worse.
Debbie Mahaffey, who also belongs to the Moose, said it is typical for women and others to use the door.
Mahaffey, Cummings and other Moose members indicated five or so homeless have broken into the former body shop and have been living there for months. On Tuesday, there was an opening on the south side that had boards removed. There were also signs it was being used as a homeless encampment.
Mahaffey indicated there has at least been one fire in the building recently that was apparently started by the homeless living there.
The empty and no longer secured vacant barn-like building is where a proposed Chevron gas station and mini-mart with space for shops has been approved by the Manteca Planning Commission. Work has yet to start.
There have been a number of fires in Manteca over the years that officials believe may have been started by the homeless who had broken into the secured and/or boarded up structures. The most recent was the Sycamore Arms fire downtown at Yosemite and Sycamore avenues as well as the old Sunnyvalley Meats building on Yosemite Avenue just east of Union Road.
Three buildings along Moffat were the site of numerous fires started by the homeless until such time as the city was able to get the buildings demolished.
Several Moose members noted that they are always chasing off homeless individuals who have been known to check car doors and to look in the back of pick-ups presumably for items to steal.
The dog on Friday was not on a leash.
It was noted that a number of homeless around Manteca have dogs that aren’t on leashes. The city requires all dogs when not confined to fenced yards that are outside especially in public areas to be on a leash. Manteca also requires dogs to be licensed and vaccinated.