Archived Story

Ask Trooper Rob: Unleashed dogs can pose danger

Published 9:09pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last week, an officer from Niles City Police Department was riding his bicycle on a long stretch of road when he heard small dogs barking at him. He looked to the left and saw the little dogs but also saw a large Rottweiler running toward him, not barking and bearing teeth. As he began taking evasive maneuvers, a car came over the hill and struck and killed the dog. Cars behind that car and behind the bicycle rider began to brake and swerve. No human injuries were reported, but this could have been a very dangerous situation.

I was riding my bicycle in a different location a few days after being told of this incident. I was approaching a hill with a curve when I saw a small dog dragging a leash run into the road from my right to chase an oncoming car. The dog suddenly stopped and came at me. Being a much smaller dog, I wasn’t worried about the bite as I was able to move my leg, but the leash that was bouncing around came dangerously close to my rear wheel spokes. This caused me to swerve into the opposite lane, on a curve, on a hill, another potentially dangerous situation.

Per MCL 287.262B, the law states the owner of the dog is responsible for an unleashed dog. This is a misdemeanor punishable by three months and/or not less than $10 nor more than $100. There is also a county ordinance that could be used. For example, Cass County’s Ordinance Section 11.1 states “Dog At Large: A dog is running at large unaccompanied by its owner or engaged in lawful hunting and is not under reasonable control of its owner, with or without a license attached to the collar of the dog.” Section 11.4 “Dog At Large – Vicious: A dog has shown vicious habits or has molested a person when lawfully on the public highway or on property other than that of the owner.”

Please keep all pets under control during any season and ensure the safety of all, including the pets. Check with your local animal control for more information on other ordinances.

On Dec. 5, 1974, troopers Larry Forreider, 33, and Michael McMasters were working the midnight shift in the Alpena Post area. Forreider was driving and stopped a vehicle for a broken taillight about 2:30 a.m. They had no way of knowing the driver, Jerry Rhode, and the two passengers, Joe Rhode and James Brown, were armed and had prior criminal records. The Rhode brothers were out on bond for concealed weapons offenses and were wanted by Saginaw and Midland police on a variety of felony charges. Brown was an escapee from Kentucky for burglary.

Forreider approached the driver side while McMasters approached the passenger side. After asking for the registration and Rhode’s license, McMasters noticed one of the passengers open the glove box and observed a gun.

He ordered the passengers out and had them spread eagle and searched them, finding no other weapons. Forreider ordered Rhodes out at gunpoint. Rhodes refused. McMasters then heard two shots and heard his partner yell, “I’ve been shot.” Forreider was able to crouch and fired at Rhodes ineffectively. Joe Rhodes attempted to grab another concealed gun in the car but was shot by McMasters in the stomach.

Leaving his wounded brother, Rhodes and Brown took off running into the woods with McMasters emptying his revolver and his wounded partner’s revolver to no avail. He then handcuffed the wounded suspect to the car, grabbed the shotgun and attended to his partner. The blood-chilling emergency radio traffic got troopers and officers from the Seventh and Third districts heading towards the shooting at full speed.

Larry Forreider, who joined the MSP on Oct. 16, 1967, was pronounced dead at Alpena General Hospital with two bullet wounds to the heart. Within a short time, state police helicopters and canine-tracking teams arrived and joined the manhunt for the two remaining suspects. Brown was quickly apprehended and at about the eleventh hour of the chase, Jerry Rhode was cornered and shot himself dead.

The wounded Rhode brother was convicted for felony murder and sentenced to life in prison. Brown was returned to Kentucky. McMasters received the Bravery Award and retired in 1990 as a detective sergeant. A Posthumous Valor Award was awarded to Forreider’s widow.

After this incident, the Michigan State Police purchased the newly developed Kevlar bullet-resistant vest that became standard issue and required equipment for uniformed troopers.

Forreider, an Air Force veteran, was the 30th MSP trooper to die in the line of duty.

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