Biting politics: The playful (and possibly legal) antics of Joe Biden’s furry first friend

Biting politics: The playful (and possibly legal) antics of Joe Biden’s furry first friend

President Joe Biden’s furry sidekicks, Major and Commander, have wagged their way into the limelight for more than just their playful antics, and tongues have been wagging. These two German Shepherds have been sinking their teeth into more than just chew toys, engaging in a series of biting incidents with Secret Service agents, prompting concerns about safety and even sparking a lawsuit.

Biden’s biting buddies

According to Newsweek, both Major and Commander have bitten Secret Service agents on multiple occasions. These bites were grave enough to require medical attention, some of which have resulted in stitches. The White House tried to leash the problem through dog training, consultations with veterinarians and animal behaviorists, and other measures. But alas, these efforts seemed to have fallen flat. What’s worse is that legal woes were barking at their doorstep.

The watchdog and the secrets of the Secret Service

Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the Secret Service, hoping to unleash records related to the biting incidents. Judicial Watch claimed the Secret Service was burying bones, attempting to withhold information about dog bite incidents within the White House.

Thanks to their lawsuit, Judicial Watch obtained emails and reports detailing no less than 23 biting incidents between October 2022 and July 2023. One of these incidents was a bite severe enough to require stitches for the victim. These revelations came hot on the heels of previous biting incidents involving Major, the other Biden canine.

A looming legal dogfight

The Secret Service has a crucial mission: protecting the President and his family. These biting incidents raise serious questions about the Secret Service’s ability to fulfill its duties in a world where unpredictable pooches pose a threat.

Beyond the security problems, however, there’s a potential legal dogfight looming for the Biden family. Legal eagles believe the Bidens could be held responsible for these dog bite incidents, with Secret Service agents potentially filing lawsuits seeking compensation for their injuries.

This situation casts a long shadow over an otherwise heart-warming tale of a President finding companionship in his beloved dogs. When those companions become a liability, some tough questions simply have to be raised.

How should the safety of Secret Service personnel be guaranteed? Can the Commander (the dog, not the chief) be removed from the White House?

Can the President, as the dogs’ owner, be held liable for their attacks? Or can he claim presidential immunity? Does having family dogs for emotional companions in the White House fall under the scope of the President’s employment?

More crucially, will a Secret Service agent be allowed to file a suit against the President in the first place? Or is getting bitten by the Presidential pooches fall under “occupational hazards”?

Who let the dogs out?

In October 2023, after a particularly hairy biting incident involving Commander, the decision was made to relocate the dog to live with relatives.

While this seemed to fetch a solution for the White House, lingering questions remain. The Secret Service will need to figure out how to handle similar situations in the future, and the Biden family must determine how to ensure the safety of their furry friends and those around them. It's a cautionary tale reminding us that even the most delightful companions can sometimes become paw-ssible liabilities.

The bone of contention

Joe Biden isn’t an ordinary citizen. If he were just an ordinary Joe, and his dog happened to bite someone resulting in a lawsuit, US laws dictate that the owner is liable for the incident. In such cases, he would likely hire a lawyer to represent his case, or more commonly, opt to settle out of court before the trial begins.

If you ever find yourself in a dog-biting incident, whether you’re the owner or the victim, you should approach our legal experts at LaGrandeur & Williams. We can help you settle amicably or fetch a fair amount if you’re the injured party. If you need family law expertise, contact or visit us at our Renton law offices.