US President Joe Biden’s dog, Commander, is no longer at the White House following a series of biting incidents involving White House staff and US Secret Service officers, a spokesperson for First Lady Jill Biden said.
Making the announcement on Wednesday, Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, said the president and his wife cared deeply about the safety of White House staff and the security personnel who protect them.
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“Commander is not presently on the White House campus while next steps are evaluated,” Alexander said in an emailed statement.
The president and first lady “remain grateful for the patience and support of the US Secret Service and all involved, as they continue to work through solutions”, Alexander said.
Alexander did not say where the two-year-old German shepherd purebred was sent or whether the move was permanent.
Commander was last seen on Saturday at an upper balcony of the president’s private quarters at the White House.
The announced removal of Commander came hours after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked at a daily media briefing about a new allegation that he had bitten a White House staffer.
Jean-Pierre referred questions to the first lady’s office, which said Commander and Dale Haney, the head groundskeeper at the White House, were playing and that no skin was broken in an incident that was photographed by a tourist and shared with a news organisation, which then published the image online.
The US Secret Service has acknowledged that 11 of its agents had been nipped by the president’s dog, though US media reported that the actual number was higher and that the dog had bitten other White House workers, too. One such incident required a hospital visit by an injured law enforcement officer, according to records from the Department of Homeland Security.
Following a biting incident on September 25 involving a uniformed Secret Service officer, Alexander said that “the White House can be a stressful environment for family pets” and that the Bidens were continuing to “work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds”.
The Secret Service provides security protection for the president and his family, and dozens of its officers are posted around the White House mansion and its sprawling grounds.
Commander is the second of Biden’s dogs at the White House that has behaved aggressively. They eventually sent a previous dog, also a German shepherd, named Major, to live with friends in Delaware.
Commander was a gift to the president in December 2021 from his brother James.
The Bidens’ beloved dog Champ died in 2021 at the age of 13. They also have a cat named Willow.
Source: News Agencies