“Major” Liability or One Free Bite? Biden Sends Dogs Back to Delaware After Biting Incident

Courtesy White House (Major)

The Biden German Shepherds have been sent back to Delaware after “Major” was involved in a “biting incident” with a White House security officer. Assuming the incident was a dog-bites-guard rather than a guard-bites-dog incident, the question is whether this is a “Major” liability concern. If nothing else, it allows me to talk about two of my favorite subjects: dogs and torts.

As many of you know, I am a dog fanatic and celebrated the return of dogs to the White House with Champ and Major. I could never abide the Trump White House sans dogs.

This is not the first such dog biting case. Most recently, the Obama’s dog, Sunny, bit a tourist and actually drew blood.

It is often said the every dog gets one free bite in American torts. However, the “one free bite rule” is a commonly misunderstood torts doctrine — suggesting that you are not subject to strict liability until after the first time your dog bites someone. In fact, you are subject to strict liability whenever you know or have reason to know of the vicious propensity of your animal. That can be satisfied by conduct such as frequent snapping or aggressive behavior. Indeed, that was the evidence used in the famous case from San Francisco involving lawyers and dog owners Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. They were found both criminally and civilly liable after their two Presa Canario dogs killed apartment neighbor Diane Whipple. Various neighbors complained about the dogs, which the couple inherited from a convict. Paul “Cornfed” Schneider is a reputed member of the Aryan Brotherhood and was planning a guard-dog business to be called “Dog-O-War.” Three days after Whipple’s death, the couple adopted Schneider as their son. The dogs had not bitten anyone but were known to be aggressive.

Major was adopted in November 2018 from an animal shelter.

Accounts indicate that he has been displaying aggressive behavior including barking and charging at White House staff and security. That could negate any need for an actual bite since it could be alleged that Major’s vicious propensity was known or should have been known to the Bidens.

Still, the Obama incident was actually presented a greater liability issue since it involved a tourist. An employee could file for worker’s compensation but may have waiver issues on bringing a direct tort action. The security covers the personal family, including Major, though fortunately non-canine family members have not been known to bite staff.

Presumably, the Bidens will avoid the scandal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who accidentally left Fala behind while visiting the Aleutian Islands. He was accused by Republicans of sending a Navy destroyer, at a taxpayer expense of up to $20 million, to retrieve the dog. FDR went public to say that Fala “resented” the disparagement of his reputation.  It appears that the Biden used conventional ground transportation to take the dogs to their Delaware Elba.

In the Obama story, I was most interested in possible congressional hearings where the other Obama dog might flip on Sunny to incriminate him. Since Champ, the older dog, was sent “up the river” with Major and could harbor some resentment. Yet, I expect Champ is likely to stick with his fellow German Shepherd. (A Bichon Frise would likely turn in a nanosecond). Besides they are both being whisked out of town before any congressional investigators show up with treats and subpoenas.



42 thoughts on ““Major” Liability or One Free Bite? Biden Sends Dogs Back to Delaware After Biting Incident”

  1. Perhaps Champ and Major can assist with Major’s legal defense under the “one bite” rule by researching relevant precedents…”german shepardization,” if you will.

  2. While he’s the president living in the white house he should let a couple immigrant families that he’s letting in the country live in his house president chicken shit

  3. In my lifetime I’ve been around 3 times when a biting dog was put down. This is a long time ago, when personal responsibility and character were a measure of persons worth. One bite was proof of an out of control dog. A dog that could not useful, because his actions were unpredictable. The last was my brothers dog. He was curled up next to my pre teen daughter, and for no reason(witnesses) bit her face. We left because a visit to the orthodontist was required. An hour later my brother called to apologize profusely, and let me know the dog had been put down. Honestly, I did not even consider the need, and had no anger toward the dog, or my brother.

    Again, this was the good old days when good people did the right things for the right reasons, and govt power never was a consideration.
    It was also in rural America, where animals are not considered equal to humans. So putting down a dog that no longer could be used as a tool, was not something that was an action that warranted any discussioni. A bite was followed closely by a rifle shell. Simple.

  4. In a lot of areas Trump just handled things better then all those people now in DC like Biden & the rest from the Old Folks Home. Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell, McCarthy, etc., etc,…

    Trump honors military dog at White House
    •Nov 25, 2019

  5. When is Biden going to send Kamala Harris back?

    Multiple women claim Cuomo sexually abused/assaulted them in the workplace.

    Kamala Harris was “sexually abused/assaulted” in the work place by a prominent politician in California and a very married man with children, Willy Brown, but she enjoyed and allowed it because it resulted in

    lucrative raises and promotions (with no discernible acumen, qualifications or eligibility, look where she is now).

    Looks like women like workplace “sexual abuse/assault” when it provides the benefits and advantages to women, and they are traumatized, they just hate it and they are simply outraged when it provides the

    “advantage” to men.

  6. It’s better to take your chances getting bit by a dog, than a Trump supporter, a least with the dog there’s a good chance it has it’s shots.

  7. If a dog bites someone without causing serious injury, or on 2 separate occasions killed or seriously injured livestock or pets off their own property, here in CA, the are deemed “dangerous.” They are required to wear an orange collar. AC will inspect fencing to ensure it’s adequate. And the dog must be muzzled in order to leave the property. If there are no further incidents for 3 years, then the dog no longer has to wear the orange collar or the muzzle.

    The rules were created to both protect the public, and give a dog who has bitten someone a chance to survive.


    Honestly, if the dogs were showing fear aggression, then the commotion of the White House was a totally unsuitable environment for them. You’ve got to set your dogs up for success, not put them in a situation they can’t handle.

    1. Think how stressed and afraid those dogs must have been living in the commotion and confusion of the White House. It’s incrediably unfair and irresponsible of the Bidens to expect their dogs to handle this. They are at fault for the biting incident, not the dogs. Even the calmest of dogs will bite if forced to contend with the constant stress from perceived threats. Many people behave the same way!

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