One Free (Presidential) Bite Rule: Bush’s Dog Barney Bites Reporter

images1The White House was the scene of a torts controversy this week after Presidential Dog Barney bite a reporter. It is a classic question of the common law “one free bite rule.” The video is below.

The Scottish terrier bit Reuters reporter Jonathan Decker in a dream of any personal injury lawyer: a well photographed, unprovoked attack. The greatest danger to Decker was being crushed by the hundreds of lawyers on nearby K St, rushing to give him their business cards. (I am in Kentucky for a speech and feel helpless in missing the opportunity).

Barney appears to have finally succumbed to the hostility toward the media that has manifested itself during this campaign at the White House. This is clearly a case of a pet picking up an owner’s feelings.

Under the common law, the expression “one free bite” is a bit of a misnomer. An owner is strictly liable if he has knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities — not necessarily by a previous biting alone. This could be an ideal subject for congressional oversight to determine if President Bush has brought vicious animals into the White House complex to attack reporters as some type of Roman games or sport as he watches from the Oval Office. I hear that someone saw Bush give the thumbs down signal seconds before Barney was released on the reporter.

Barney is originally from New Jersey and was born on September 30, 2000.

Previous presidents have had both a hippo and a gator as pets — animals that would be classified as wild under the common law and subject to strict liability.

For the video, click here.

For the full story, click here and here

24 thoughts on “One Free (Presidential) Bite Rule: Bush’s Dog Barney Bites Reporter”

  1. I think the Obamas should get a Jack Russell. Small, scrappy, and very enthusiastic. (Plus, one can always slip up like I did once, and accidently call it a “Jack Daniels Terrier.”)

  2. It’s official.

    I want to go drinking with mespo.

    And while a lab IS a great breed with kids, I would like to remind you that they “remain a puppy” much longer than most breeds. Do we really want him chewing up the Lincoln bedroom?

    My vote is Great Dane. Great with kids and naturally very protective. Smart too.

  3. All this talk of Bourbon is making an old Irishman thirsty! I will put my vote in for a yellow lab for the Obamas. Very good with kids and reporters.

  4. mespo727272 1, November 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm


    If you are in Kentucky, grab a bottle of Rev. Elijah Craig’s Kentucky Small Batch Bourbon from Heaven Hill Distillery. The Baptist Reverend was the “Father of Bourbon,” and that’s a religion I like.

    A true South’n gentleman in the true South’n tradtion…

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