One of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden’s German shepherds bit a National Park Service employee on Monday, in the second White House “biting incident” involving the dog this month.
What are the details?
CNN reported that the incident occurred on the South Lawn of the White House, noting that the victim “was working at the time and needed to stop in order to receive treatment from the White House medical unit.”
Michael LaRosa, Mrs. Biden’s press secretary, told the outlet that Major, the younger of the Biden’s dogs, is “still adjusting to his new surroundings,” confirming, “Yes, Major nipped someone on a walk. Out of an abundance of caution, the individual was seen by WHMU and then returned to work without injury.”
Major also bit a Secret Service employee on March 8, in an incident that also required medical attention for the victim. The Biden dogs were returned home to Delaware following the first incident, but President Biden said it was a planned trip and that the dogs had not been banished.
In an interview with ABC News earlier this month, Biden claimed that Major “did not bite someone and penetrate the skin” in the first incident, adding that “the dog’s being trained now with our trainer at home in Delaware.”
Major is 3 years old, and was adopted by the Bidens from a shelter in 2018 to serve as a companion for their older dog, Champ, who is roughly 13 and has not been implicated in either of the biting incidents.
In relaying the first White House biting incident involving Major, CNN reported that the younger dog “has been known to display agitated behavior on multiple occasions, including jumping, barking, and ‘charging’ staff and security” since arriving at the White House.
The White House has downplayed both biting incidents involving Major, and as news broke of the second attack White House director of message planning Meghan Hays tweeted out a picture of herself with the dog, writing, “Yesterday, I snuck a quick hug from my ol’ friend Major! It’s definitely feeling like Spring around here.”
How are people reacting?
Major Biden jokes and memes began flowing on Twitter.
But others took a more serious tone on the news. Numerous people came to the dog’s defense by arguing that “a nip is not a bite,” and therefore not worthy of concern.
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote a blog post on the situation, and tweeted, “In a prior column, I noted that under tort law a dog is afforded (at most) ‘one free bite’ before strict liability applies. Major could now be treated as a known vicious animal for liability purposes.”