The White House Dog Scandal
Biden apparently does not care if his dog repeatedly attacks the people who protect him.
Last week, President Joe Biden’s German shepherd Commander bit a Secret Service agent. That marked the 11th time — yes, the 11th time — that Commander had bitten one of the agents and other Secret Service officers who guard the president. Some of the attacks left wounds requiring medical attention, and at least one required hospital care for Commander’s victim.
Obviously, the dog should have been removed from the White House a long time ago. What other workplace would allow a dog, even the boss’s dog, to remain after biting at least 11 people? I say “at least” because there are 11 known incidents, but it’s not clear that all the incidents are known. The situation is actually a scandal, and it reflects badly on Biden, who apparently does not care if his dog repeatedly attacks the people who protect him.
The public would not know about any of this had the conservative legal group Judicial Watch not filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking Secret Service emails and other records. Among the documents handed over was an email from Nov. 3, 2022 that said Commander had bitten a Uniform Division officer two times, once in the upper right arm and also in the officer’s thigh. After being bitten twice, the officer used a steel cart to shield himself from the attacking dog. Then, according to the emails, “White House medical treated the officer and made the decision to have [the officer] transported to a hospital.”
In case anyone thinks the president and first lady Jill Biden don’t know what is happening, consider this email from Oct. 26, 2022. “Recently Commander has been exhibiting extremely aggressive behavior,” a Secret Service officer wrote. “Today, while posted, he came charging at me. The First Lady couldn’t regain control of Commander and he continued to circle me. I believe it’s only a matter of time before an agent/officer is attacked or bit. He would have bitten me today if I didn’t step towards him a couple different times. It was bad enough that the agent on the detail asked if I got bit.” Mrs. Biden apparently witnessed the whole incident.
When the first news of Commander’s attacks came out in July, the White House issued a statement suggesting Commander has been under a lot of stress and that the Bidens were “working through ways” to improve the situation. “The White House complex is a unique and often stressful environment for family pets,” the statement said, “and the First Family is working through ways to make this situation better for everyone. They have been partnering with the Secret Service and Executive Residence staff on additional leashing protocols and training, as well as establishing designated areas for Commander to run and exercise.”
Now we have news of another attack. And the White House has issued another insubstantial statement. “The First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds,” a White House statement said. “The President and First Lady are incredibly grateful to the Secret Service and Executive Residence staff for all they do to keep them, their family, and the country safe.”
The reaction is similar to a 2021 situation involving Biden’s previous German shepherd, Major, who also bit a number of people in the White House. President Biden called Major a “sweet dog,” while a White House spokesman said the dog was “still adjusting to his new surroundings.” Major was eventually sent to the Bidens’ home in Delaware.
Now, incredibly, after Commander’s attacks, the situation has become something of a joke. On Monday, Politico published a story headlined, “Commander’s taste buds,” which noted that Commander seems to bite only Secret Service personnel and not White House staff. “Among staff, there is an emerging belief that, in the eyes of Commander, they are off limits,” Politico reported, “that the dog only has an appetite for the Secret Service.”
In fact, the article said, Commander is quite popular with White House staff. “Everyone loves him,” one anonymous worker was quoted as saying. “He’s always so friendly.”
One might think the situation is just great, with the exception of all those people who have been bitten and had to have medical care, in one case hospital care. In the non-White House world, a dog that has done what Commander has done might well be euthanized, and without a doubt would be removed from the area where he attacked people over and over and over. But not President Biden’s dog.
Now, the president appears to be trying to explain away the situation. Biden didn’t really want the dog, Politico reported, but felt he had to accept the pet. “When Biden’s brother James gave Commander to the president for his birthday in 2021 after Major had been sent away — and as the first family was still grieving the loss of their longtime German shepherd Champ — it caught the White House off guard,” Politico reported. “A person close to the Bidens said that the president and first lady initially weren’t thrilled to be introducing a new puppy into their chaotic White House life, but they felt like they couldn’t turn down a gift from a well-meaning family member.”
Only in Washington does a politician do damage control by distancing himself from his dog.
So what now? The first thing to say is that this is not funny. It’s not a story about “Commander’s taste buds.” It’s about a president who has allowed his White House to become a dangerous assignment for the agents who protect him. A president who puts his dog over the men and women who put their own lives on the line to save the president of the United States. As Joe Biden might say — not a joke. So when will the president do something about it?
This content originally appeared on the Washington Examiner at washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-white-house-dog-scandal.
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