In the early months of Joe Biden's presidency, there were numerous news reports about the aggressive behavior of his White House dog, Major, a German shepherd. Despite undergoing training to stop biting people, Major continued to bite staff members, especially members of the Secret Service. Eventually, in December 2021, Major was sent to live with family friends in a quieter environment as the White House welcomed a new cat and a German shepherd puppy named Commander.
Commander, the new German shepherd, also exhibited aggressive behavior, biting seven people in a four-month period. Internal Secret Service communications reviewed by The Post revealed incidents where Commander bit officers on the upper right arm, thigh, left forearm, and right hand. These incidents required hospitalization and medical treatment. Some Secret Service agents expressed frustration and criticized the handling of the situation, suggesting that if it wasn't the President's dog, he would have been put down or required a muzzle.
The incidents involving Commander raised concerns about the safety of Secret Service agents and the need for updated dog laws. Corey Wiggins, the Wexford County Prosecutor, stated that there is no good way to handle such cases as dog laws are still set in the past and don't consider dogs as family members. He emphasized the need for laws that reflect how people today view their dogs as part of their families.
In another case, a 10-year-old dog named Watson was surrendered to the Denver Animal Shelter after biting a 2-year-old child. The dog's owners explained that Watson had been startled while sleeping by the toddler, resulting in stitches for the child. The Denver Animal Protection reviewed the severity of the bite and the dog's history before deciding whether it was safe to release Watson back into the community. This case highlighted the responsibility of animal shelters to protect both people and animals in the community.
On a different note, the Tulsa Zoo announced the passing of their 11-year-old African painted dog, Kasama. Kasama, along with her sisters Shiyane and Nyika, were the first African painted dogs to call the Tulsa Zoo home when the zoo opened its African painted dog exhibit in 2013. The African painted dogs are the sole surviving species of a distinct and ancient lineage of canines. They are recognizable by their large ears, long legs, mottled coat pattern, white-tufted tail, and squeaky bird-like calls. The Tulsa Zoo plans to bring back African painted dogs with the opening of the William S. Smith African Wilds complex, which is expected to be complete by 2026.
In Circleville, a video captured body-camera footage of a recent traffic stop where a Circleville Police dog attacked and bit an unarmed Black man. The incident raised concerns about police security, public safety, and the use of police dogs in law enforcement situations.
These incidents involving dogs highlight the importance of responsible pet ownership, proper training, and the need for updated laws and regulations to ensure the safety of both humans and animals. It is essential for dog owners to understand their pets' behavior and take necessary precautions to prevent any harm to others. Similarly, law enforcement agencies should review their protocols and training procedures to ensure the appropriate and safe use of police dogs in various situations. By prioritizing the well-being and safety of both humans and animals, we can create a harmonious coexistence between pets and society.
0. “Biden's dog Commander keeps biting people.” slate.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/07/bidens-dog-commander-keeps-biting-people.html
1. “Bidens' dog bit several Secret Service agents | The Spokesman …” www.spokesman.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2023/jul/25/bidens-dog-bit-several-secret-service-agents/
2. “Video shows Circleville police dog attacking a suspect | News …” www.circlevilleherald.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://www.circlevilleherald.com/news/video-shows-circleville-police-dog-attacking-a-suspect/article_74068326-2a58-11ee-9b33-d3b901e179c3.html
3. “English Setter dog gets second chance at life | Denver Metro News …” denvergazette.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://denvergazette.com/news/local/english-setter-watson-saved/article_204e6b06-2b46-11ee-9777-aba6daf7c4f0.html
4. “No Kill Colorado says dog that hurt child released from Denver …” www.denver7.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://www.denver7.com/news/local-news/no-kill-colorado-advocating-for-release-of-dog-that-hurt-child
5. “Tulsa Zoo mourns loss of African painted dog ‘Kasama'” www.kjrh.com, 27 Jul. 2023, https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/tulsa-zoo-mourns-loss-of-african-painted-dog-kasama