Problem pets are hounding US President Joe Biden again, after his dog Commander was involved in several biting incidents, including at the White House — the second time a Biden family pooch has been accused of nipping staff.
Commander, a German Shepherd who first arrived at the bustling White House as a puppy in 2021, will have to undergo a fresh round of training in the wake of at least 10 incidents, including one that sent a victim to the hospital, US media reported.
In one incident, First Lady Jill Biden “couldn’t regain control” of the young dog as he charged a Secret Service staff member, CNN reported, citing Secret Service emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by conservative group Judicial Watch.
“I believe it’s only a matter of time before an agent/officer is attacked or bit,” the staff member wrote in an email.
Jill Biden’s communications director described the hectic White House to CNN as a “unique and often stressful environment for family pets,” and said the Bidens were working with the Secret Service and building staff on new protocols and training.
“The First Family is working through ways to make the situation better for everyone,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, mentioning plans for more training and “establishing designated areas for Commander to run and exercise.”
The Bidens’ other German Shepherd, Major, also had some trouble adapting to White House life.
In 2021, he was briefly sent back to the Biden family home in Delaware after at least one biting incident, and also underwent additional training. He was later sent to live with family friends.
Joe Biden attributed Major’s unpresidential behavior to the way he gets surprised by Secret Service agents and others appearing around every corner in the busy White House complex.
The Bidens also have a cat — a short-haired tabby named Willow.
But while White House cats have been known to gain political cachet — the Clintons’ cat, Socks, was photographed at the presidential desk in the Oval Office — they are a much rarer species.
Instead, the US presidential mansion has a long and storied history as a pro-dog house. More than 100 have roamed and sniffed its corridors.
In modern times, well-liked presidential pups have included George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie and Barack Obama’s Portuguese water dogs Bo and Sunny.
After all, as former president Harry Truman once famously said, if you want a friend in Washington — get a dog.
© Agence France-Presse