Hurricane and Jordan, a pair of Secret Service dogs who were injured as they helped take down a White House fence jumper, got the all-clear to return to duty Thursday and quickly became stars for the beleaguered agency.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest hailed the duo at a daily press briefing Thursday and the Secret Service tweeted out their service pictures and mini-bios: “Jordan – black/tan Belgian Malinois, brown eyes, age 5, enjoys walks around (the) White House.”
Jordan and Hurricane, age 6, were taken to a veterinarian Wednesday and treated for “minor bruising,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said. They were later released and “cleared to return to duty by the veterinarian,” Leary said.
News footage of the incident showed the intruder wrestling and kicking the dogs on the North Lawn of the White House.
Dominic Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Md., was charged with two felony counts of assault on a police officer – the dogs. He was also charged with four counts of resisting/unlawful entry and one count of making threats.
Adesanya, who was unarmed at the time of his arrest and was treated at a local hospital for dog bites, was in custody with the U.S. Marshals Service for previous outstanding warrants, and a court date was pending.
His capture after vaulting the fence was a bit of good news for the agency, which has been pilloried since last month when a man with a knife scaled the fence, ran across the lawn and got inside the White House before he was apprehended. President Barack Obama had just left for Camp David when the man jumped.
The dog teams that protect the White House were not released last month, and fans of Hurricane and Jordan quickly suggested Thursday that the doggy duo be awarded a presidential medal.
“That would have made for a good photo op, wouldn’t it?” Earnest said Thursday, asked why the two didn’t accompany him to the daily press briefing.
Earnest hailed the operation – even as reporters noted that Adesanya nevertheless made it over two layers of fence, the permanent fence plus a shorter temporary fence installed after the September breach.
The latest fence jumping came hours after Obama, in the Oval Office, warned of the importance of vigilance in the wake of a shooting at the Canadian Parliament building. And Earnest said the apprehension “underscores the professionalism of the men and women of the Secret Service.”
As for Hurricane and Jordan, Earnest made it plain they’re working animals and unlikely to mix with the first family, nor perhaps with Bo and Sunny, the Portuguese water dogs who often greet visitors to the mansion.
“The animals that performed so bravely last night are not something that we come into regular contact with here,” Earnest said. “I think that there’s probably a good reason why these animals are kept at some remove from employees and others who frequent the grounds of the White House. I think the individual last night probably saw pretty vividly why we all keep our distance.”
The Secret Service uses Belgian Malanois, a short-haired breed that packs considerable speed and energy into its small frame. The service began its canine program in 1975 because it was found to be the most effective way of detecting explosives, it says on its website.
The dogs, which the service says are “very sociable,” undergo 20 weeks of training with a handler before they begin working. After graduating from basic training, each dog retrains eight hours a week during its career.
The dogs stay with their uniformed division handlers 24 hours a day and “become members of the family,” the service said. They stay with their handlers after retirement, generally at about 10 years of age.
The dogs are an “ideal watchdog and guard dog,” Animal Planet says, and are “protective of its home and family.”
The Humane Society of the United States said it backed Adesanya’s prosecution under a federal law enforcement animal protection act that makes it a felony to kill or inflict serious bodily injury on any federal police dog or horse. Penalties range from one to 10 years in prison.
The Department of Homeland Security is reviewing the security around the White House and is expected to make recommendations early next month. Earnest said the agency is looking at a range of issues, including personnel, technology and physical obstacles, like the fence.