In the words of Madison Police spokesperson Joel Despain, Vilas Park had quite a “dog day afternoon” Saturday, after a typical beach day escalated into a waterfront brawl.

Despain recounts the mayhem in his incident report:

Incident Type


Incident Date

08/30/2014 – 6:13 PM


1501 Vilas Park Dr. (Vilas Park beach)


Male, white, 29-35 years old, 5’11”, 160 pounds, scraggly dark hair, goatee.


A Vilas Park lifeguard was battered and injured Saturday afternoon after using pepper spray to stop an unleashed and aggressive dog that had just charged a small child on the beach.

The boy’s family snatched him up in the nick of time, keeping him safe, and the 53-year-old guard sternly told the animal’s owner he needed to corral his dog and leave, immediately.

Dogs are not allowed on any city beaches and are prohibited at Vilas Park – even on a leash. The dog’s owner knows this, as he has had past run-ins and dustups with the lifeguard after letting his canine loose at Vilas in the past.

The dog’s owner was anything but receptive to the guard’s order to depart. In fact, he became livid, and now his dog was going after the life guard. The protector of the beach reached for his pepper spray. It stopped the dog in its tracks, and now its master was really mad. He was the one now doing the chasing. The guard attempted to use his pepper spray again, but this time he failed. He ended up being slammed into rakes hanging on the wall of the beach shelter. These are tools typically used to rake sand, but the lifeguard now grabbed one for self-defense as the angry man punched and kicked him. During the tussle a second lifeguard, a 29-year-old woman, was struck in the hip with the rake. A third lifeguard, a 20-year-old man, was eventually able to pull the assailant off his colleague and convince him to get out of the park.

The man was last seen riding off on a bicycle with his dog keeping pace.

Back at the beach, the small child was upset and crying, the second lifeguard was tending to a bruised hip, and the primary victim was nursing multiple injuries.

Peace had been restored at his beach, and shocked families – who had witnessed the violence – now tried to get back to enjoying summer’s end, on what turned out to be a dog day afternoon.

Released 09/02/2014 at 1:58 PM by PIO Joel Despain

[Image via Flickr user melgupta]