Can K-9 agents Jordan and Hurricane help the US Secret Service regain its mojo?
It’s certainly possible. The big Belgian Malinois dogs are Washington’s heroes of the moment after taking down a White House fence-jumper on Wednesday evening. Within seconds of their release by handlers, they toppled the intruder, identified later as Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Md., and held him until human agents arrived.
The efficiency of the Secret Service canines was a welcome news story for an agency troubled by a series of scandals and reports of inappropriate employee behavior. Videos of the Wednesday incident show that the intruder did not get far on the White House grounds. That’s a marked difference from September, when another fence-jumper sprinted up the lawn and made it inside the Executive Mansion.
Dogs weren’t released in September because there was little time and they did not seem to be tracking the intruder, officials later said.
On Wednesday, Jordan and Hurricane were slightly injured in the line of duty, according to the Secret Service. Mr. Adesanya allegedly attempted to kick and punch them as they brought him down.
The dogs were taken to the vet, checked out and treated, and released. They got the day off as a reward.
Adesanya remained in custody. According to his father, Adesanya has had mental health issues. He has previously approached the White House gate and asked to speak to the president and has exhibited disturbing behavior at home, the father told CNN.
Even lawmakers who have been critical of Secret Service top leadership were quick to heap praise on Jordan and Hurricane.
“I am a big fan of the dogs,” tweeted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on national security and homeland defense, on Friday.
Representative Chaffetz has previously indicated he believes the Secret Service should use deadly force if a fence-jumper appears to pose a significant security threat.
Animal rights advocates called for prosecution of Adesanya under a statute that makes it illegal to attempt to inflict injury upon dogs or horses used by federal law enforcement.
“This person didn’t just illegally enter White House grounds – he attempted to seriously injure two law enforcement animals doing their duty. We support his prosecution under the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, in a statement.
If nothing else, Jordan and Hurricane’s heroism may overshadow the latest revelation about Secret Service human misbehavior. An inspector general report released on Wednesday recounted a strange incident in which the Secret Service pulled agents from duty near the White House and reassigned them to the rural Maryland home of an agency support employee embroiled in a dispute with a neighbor.
This move represented a “serious lapse in judgment,” said Department of Homeland Security inspector general John Roth.
Secret Service officials did not realize right away that their dogs themselves might be a public relations tool the agency could use in its favor. It was not until Thursday afternoon that they tweeted out individual photos of the dogs, posed between US and US Secret Service flags.
Hurricane, a black Belgian Malinois, is 6 years old and enjoys playing with his Kong toy, according to the Secret Service. (For non-dog owners, Kongs are big rubber chew toys favored by the owners of active dogs because of their relative durability.)
Jordan is a black and tan Malinois who is 5 years old and “enjoys walks around White House,” according to the Secret Service.
For those who think they’d love a similar dog at home, beware: The Belgian Malinois, like many working dog breeds, is not for everyone.
They are big, highly intelligent, and they like to move around. They really like to move around. The Westminster Kennel Club, host of America’s biggest dog show, lists them as “extraordinarily active.”
“You should research carefully before you own one to ensure it is the right dog for you and your lifestyle,” writes the WKC on its Web listing for the breed.