One of President Joe Biden’s dogs bit its 11th victim, a U.S. Secret Service agent, on Monday evening at the White House, a spokesperson for the agency told HuffPost on Tuesday.
“The officer was treated by medical personnel on complex” after the incident, the Secret Service chief of communications, Anthony Guglielmi, told HuffPost.
Commander is a 2-year-old pure-bred German shepherd that replaced Major, the Bidens’ German shepherd rescue who also had several instances of biting people at the White House.
The numerous examples of Commander — and Major — injuring people has forced the White House to respond and has prompted conversations about how the dogs may have made the complex an unsafe workplace.
“As we’ve noted before, the White House can be a stressful environment for family pets, and the First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds,” Elizabeth Alexander, a spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden, told NBC News in a statement Tuesday.
“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,” Alexander added.
President Joe Biden's dog Commander, a German shepherd, is walked outside the West Wing of the White House on April 29.
After one incident in July, the White House said it would provide “additional leashing protocols and training” as well as “designated areas for Commander to run and exercise.” The statement came after Commander attacked a different agent when Jill Biden “couldn’t regain control” of the dog.
In a separate instance in November 2022, Commander bit an officer on the arm and legs.
Melissa Bain, a professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of California, Davis, told HuffPost that the “vast majority of aggression in dogs is based in fear,” noting that all dogs are capable of biting, independent of their breed.
Bain explained that a lot of variables can be at play when dogs become aggressive and that the type of training and socialization a dog experiences can play a huge role in how they behave.
“When we [veterinary behavior professionals] look at multiple bites and multiple situations, it can be due to a number of reasons. One is communication between people. It could be certainly lack of management or placing their dog in a bad situation over and over again. And then the failure to address the underlying reasons for that,” she said.
Bain suggested that owners of dogs with behavioral issues should speak with a veterinarian to determine whether the dog is affected by a physical condition.
When it comes to changing behavioral issues in dogs, Bain said that it’s important for owners to change the underlying emotional response and teach the animal a cue to address the behavior.
For dogs that have bitten people, Bain said she would specifically look at “changing the emotional response to the triggers causing the dog to feel like they have to bite or display aggressive behavior.”
CNN contributor and former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow shed light on the dog’s behavior as a workplace hazard in a CNN report by producer and reporter Betsy Klein.
“There’s uniqueness here where it’s the residence of the president of the United States, but it’s also the workplace for hundreds, thousands of people. And you can’t bring a hazard into the workplace. And that’s what is essentially happening with this dog. One time you can say it’s an accident, but now multiple incidents. It’s a serious issue,” he said.
“I’m sure that the Bidens love the dog. I’m sure that it’s a member of the family like every dog is, but you’re creating a significant hazard to those who support you ― support the office of the president,” Wackrow added.