Dogs of the Day
Hurricane and Jordan
By Whitney Wilde
Seven-fifteen p.m., Wednesday, October 22, 2014: the sun was almost down at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. President Barack Obama had spent the day juggling many crises, including the outbreak of Ebola and the ongoing violence in Sudan. Wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, grey shorts, and black running shoes, a young man looking like any other tourist stood gazing at the south side of the White House.
The athletic and muscled 23-year-old scaled the 8-foot tall north perimeter fence, and entered the White House grounds after jumping over a second (shorter) fence, and then continued sprinting toward the doors near the White House kitchen. He did not go unnoticed. Secret Service officers ordered him to stop and get on the ground, but he raced forward another 25 yards. Two Secret Service officers approached him. He landed a solid kick into Officer Jordan’s body. Then Officer Hurricane slammed him to the ground. He got up, threw Hurricane down, and then repeatedly beat him with his fist. Moments later, he was surrounded and placed in handcuffs.
The suspect had been arrested twice before for illegally entering the White House grounds. This time he was charged with four misdemeanor counts of willfully entering restricted grounds at the White House. More importantly, he was charged with two felony counts of maliciously harming the two Secret Service officers and one felony count of making threats. The two brave officers were taken for a medical check and released with minor bruising. They received a day off as a reward and it is likely these heroes will receive a Presidential Medal.
It reads like the plot of a crime show on television, except that the stars of this show are two Belgian Malinois! Their job is to stop intruders at the White House. Officer Jordan is a five-year-old black-and-tan Malinois, and Officer Hurricane is a year older and solid black. They live with their handlers 24 hours a day, become members of their families, and then stay with them after they retire at around 10 years old. As working Secret Service officers, they have no time to play with the presidential pooches, Bo and Sunny, the Obama’s Portuguese water dogs. For fun, Jordan enjoys walks around the White House grounds and Hurricane enjoys playing with his Kong®.
During another recent incident the dogs were not deployed, resulting in a knife-wielding intruder making it right up to the White House doors. This, along with other Secret Service failures, resulted in the resignation of Secret Service director, Julia Pierson. With their lightning speed of up to 30 miles per hour and their 270-degree field of vision, these dogs are able to take off like bullets and quickly take down suspects.
“Once you release the dogs to their objective, there’s not much that can stop them; the dogs take them down, slam into them,” recounted Former Secret Service director Ralph Basham. “There are certain parts of the body they are trained to attack. They are trained to stop the intruder and give the handler time to respond.”
Jordan and Hurricane were trained at James. J. Rowley Training Center, a 500-acre complex in Laurel, Maryland. During the program, started in 1975, the dogs go through 20 weeks of training. Each dog is trained for a specific skill: bomb squad, security sweeps at hotels/buildings, or to subdue intruders at the White House. After graduation, they are required to do eight hours per week of refresher training.
The Secret Service has 75 canines in all, but only a select few work at the White House. Each dog costs $6,500 to $8,500. The Belgian Malinois breed was selected because of their strength, speed, energy, agility, obedience, and sociable nature. A male Malinois averages 60 pounds and their short hair is ideal for warmer weather. Malinois can run twice as fast as a human in short sprints, up to 30 miles per hour, and their bite is hundreds of pounds per square inch. It was also Malinois that were part of a Navy Seal team that trapped and killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011. They are not a breed for everyone—being very intelligent, energetic, and with a high amount of drive, they can be a lot to handle.
“Every day in Washington, I pass by Capitol police dogs like Hurricane and Jordan,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. “After watching the video of the two Secret Service dogs in action, you gain a new respect for their loyalty and hard work protecting places like the White House and Capitol Building.”