Gov. Kristi Noem says she shot and killed her dog. What to know about the controversy.

Kristi Noem, the South Dakota governor and potential vice presidential pick for Donald Trump stirred controversy this week after revealing in her new book that she shot and killed her dog.

The Guardian shared content Friday from her upcoming book, No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward, in which Noem stated that she killed her 14-month-old wirehaired pointer, whom Noem intended to use for hunting pheasants. When she took Cricket out for a hunt, the dog, who she said had an “aggressive personality,” went “out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life.” Cricket, she said, behaved like a “trained assassin,” and was “dangerous to anyone she came in contact with.”

“I hated that dog,” Noem shared.

The decision to kill Cricket came after Cricket attacked and killed a local farmer’s chickens, she said. Noem apologized to the farmer and helped dispose of the chickens before taking Cricket to a gravel pit and shooting the dog, which she called an “unpleasant job.”

Noem wrote that she realized after killing Cricket that she should put down another animal: a “nasty and mean” uncastrated goat on her family farm who “loved to chase” her children. She shot and killed the goat moments before her children came off the school bus. Her daughter Kennedy was confused by the scene, she recalls, asking “Hey, where’s Cricket?”

In a statement on X referring to the book excerpt, Noem wrote, “We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm. Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years. If you want more real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping, preorder ‘No Going Back.’”

The backlash was swift against Noem, with the hashtags #KristiNoemIsAMonster and #PuppyKiller trending on X on Saturday. One social media user called Noem “an embarrassment to America,” while others criticized her for not properly training Cricket, leading to the dog’s death.

“I’m appalled that anyone could be so soulless and heartless to shoot a puppy,” one wrote. “But then, think it’s cool to talk about it in a memoir like it’s something to be proud of! There’s no other way to look at @KristiNoem than as a pure, unadulterated psychopath!”

Colleen O’Brien, senior vice president of media relations at PETA, said in a statement to Yahoo News, “Most Americans love their dogs, and we suspect that they’ll consider Gov. Noem a psychotic loony for letting this rambunctious puppy loose on chickens and then punishing her by deciding to personally blow her brains out rather than attempting to train her or find a more responsible guardian who could provide her with a proper home. Noem obviously fails to understand the vital political concepts of education, cooperation, compromise, and compassion.”

Still, some people defended Noem’s actions: One X user wrote, “Kristi Noem did what she had to do, you may not agree with her, you may think she’s evil for doing it. But understand this, there is no room on a farm or ranch for a dog that kills livestock. Period.”

Another shared, “The dog slaughtered the neighbors entire flock of chickens. The neighbors were helpless to do anything. Noem tried to get the dog and the dog turned to bite her. She did what she had to do. Once a dog like that taste blood it’s over.”

Politicians also came for Noem. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz shared a photo of him feeding his dog on X, along with the caption, “Post a picture with your dog that doesn’t involve shooting them and throwing them in a gravel pit. I’ll start.”

Ryan Busse, a Democratic candidate for governor of Montana, wrote on X, “Anyone who has ever owned a bird-dog knows how disgusting, lazy and evil this is. Damn.”

The Democratic National Committee also reacted to Noem killing her dog, issuing a statement on behalf of the “DNC, aka the Dogmocratic Party” that read: “As DNC’s canine companions, we’ve heard a lot from our owners about just how extreme and dangerous Donald Trump and his far-right MAGA allies are — but nothing could prepare us for the truly disturbing and horrifying passages Kristi Noem willingly chose to put in her new book.”

Rick Wilson of the anti-Trump centrist action committee The Lincoln Project called Noem “trash” in a post on X. “Decades with hunting- and bird-dogs, and the number I’ve killed because they were chicken-sharp or had too much prey drive is ZERO,” he wrote. “Puppies need slow exposure to birds, and bird-scent. She killed a puppy because she was lazy at training bird dogs, not because it was a bad dog.”

Noem, who became South Dakota’s first female governor when she was elected in 2018, is on the list of possible VP candidates for Trump, who is set to once again face off against President Biden in the 2024 election.

In a March town hall, per one South Dakota newspaper, the Daily Republic, she responded to a question about her potential VP candidacy with, “I just want [Trump] to win, because it’s clear that it’s going to be a race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and I’ll do what I can to help him win. I’d rather stay with all of you, though, if you’ll keep me. This is my favorite job. I love this job. You guys are wonderful. And I just bought a new horse and I’m really hoping I get a chance to ride him once in a while.”

Her recent revelation that she killed her dog is not the first controversy Noem has faced.

The politician, who is also known for her staunch anti-abortion views, came under scrutiny in 2020, due to allegations that she abused her power in order to get her daughter approved for a real estate appraiser’s license after her daughter was initially denied. Noem denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the allegations as politically motivated attacks. Noem also faces a lawsuit filed by a consumer advocacy group, which alleges that she promoted a Texas dental company on social media without disclosing any financial relationship.

This year, three South Dakota tribes voted to ban Noem from their land after she stated at a community forum in Winner, S.D., “We’ve got some tribal leaders that I believe are personally benefiting from cartels being there, and that’s why they attack me every day.” After backlash from the tribes, Noem did not apologize for the comments but instead issued a statement urging tribal leaders to “banish the cartels from tribal lands.”

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