Is shooting a puppy good for a MAGA politician?

The governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem reveals in her new book that she shot dead her 14-month old puppy.

The Guardian revealed Noem’s story, which is contained in a book out next month. In No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward, Noem describes her frustrations with Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehair pointer who Noem says ruined a pheasant hunt and killed a neighbouring family’s chickens.

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, saying Cricket was “untrainable … dangerous” and “less than worthless … as a hunting dog”.

“At that moment,” Noem says, “I realised I had to put her down.”

Noem describes taking Cricket to a gravel pit on her farm and shooting her. Remarkably, Noem then describes how she also chose to kill an unruly, unnamed, un-castrated goat, first botching the job then finishing the animal off with a third shotgun shell.

Dan Lussen, a hunting dog trainer, told Rolling Stone a 14-month-old dog was a “baby that doesn’t know any better”, adding that unruly dogs were the result of a lack of guidance, training or discipline by the owner.

The pressure group Peta – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – said: “Most Americans love their dogs, and we suspect that they will consider Governor 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 would provide her with a proper home.

It has been said that there are no bad dogs, just bad guardians, that if a dog is unruly or vicious, it is because the dog’s owner has not treated it well. I do not know if this is a universal rule or if there are some dogs that, for whatever reason, are incorrigibly vicious. I do know that there are trainers who claim that they can train any dog to not be dangerous. But Noem does not say that she sought such trainers out. It seemed like she could not be bothered to even try that option and in a fit of anger at the puppy decided on her own to take this drastic action.

This reportedly happened 20 years ago and it was not revealed by others then or now. She brought it up on her own. Why write about it in a book now? She has been actively courting the attention of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) in an apparent attempt to become his pick for vice-president and some observers are saying that relating this story was an unforced error that will knock her out of the running because dog lovers transcend party affiliation and most people, whether they like dogs or not, will recoil from a puppy killer.

But high-level politicians with national ambitions are calculating people who have advisors to manage their message. They also tend to have their books ghost written and so there would have been many people involved in deciding to tell this story. I think that she must have thought that this shows her toughness and would increase her appeal to the sociopaths in the MAGA cult and bring her closer to being picked as SSAT’s running mate. Given the degenerate state of the current GOP, that theory might well have seemed plausible. But initial polling has not been good for her, at least according to a Democratic polling outfit.

Announcing what it called its “Noem Puppy Murder Poll Findings”, New River Strategies, a Democratic firm, said 81% of Americans disapproved of Noem’s decision to shoot Cricket, a 14-month-old wire-haired pointer who Noem says ruined a pheasant hunt and killed a neighbour’s chickens, thereby earning a trip to a gravel pit to die.

According to Noem’s account, the goat, which Noem did not name, followed Cricket to the pit because Noem deemed his odour and behaviour unacceptable on her farm. By Noem’s own detailed admission, it took two blasts from a shotgun, separated by a walk back to her truck for more shells, to finish the goat off.

But in the MAGA world, you never back down and never apologize and so Noem has doubled down, saying that this story shows that she will do what needs to be done.

Amid waves of backlash from both sides of the aisle, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Sunday defended her decision to shoot and kill her 14-month-old puppy named Cricket years ago.

“I can understand why some people are upset about a 20 year old story of Cricket, one of the working dogs at our ranch, in my upcoming book — No Going Back,” Noem wrote on TruthSocial.

“The fact is, South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down. Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did,” she added.

After the story stirred a firestorm on social media and questions about her viability as VP pick, Noem tried to paint the story as one of the necessary — albeit darker — sides of farm life.

“Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle. Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor,” Noem said in the social media statement Sunday.

“As I explained in the book, it wasn’t easy. But often the easy way isn’t the right way.”

That supports my view that she deliberately told this story to show her rough-and-ready toughness, similar to the way that Iowa senator Joni Ernst, when she was running for the position, released an ad boasting about how she castrated pigs. She won her election.

But most people do not relate to pigs in the way that they relate to dogs, and taking a puppy with the cute name of Cricket to a gravel pit and shooting it may be a bit too much for even some MAGA heads to stomach.


  1. Matt G says

    The MAGA world has demonstrated it will not only accept the outrageous, but glorify it. I find narcissists insufferable and also obvious. What I can’t quite figure out is why the garden variety narcissists put the high level narcissists on pedestals. Do they see it as validating their own narcissism?

  2. KG says

    At any rate, she’s now the possible Trump running-mate people are talking about; and I can see the MAGAs adopting her as the victim of persecution by an urban liberal woke mob.

  3. flex says

    Having the courage to do what needs to be done can be commendable.

    But having the inability to think beyond demanding unreasonable obedience or death is not commendable.

    It is horrific.

  4. says

    Does her book say anything at all about tough but necessary choices she had to make AS GOVERNOR OF A STATE? Because that what a sensible public official would focus on when writing their bio or memoirs.

    The mere fact that she gave such prominence to the dog story, AND explicitly cited it to show her tough-choice-making prowess, rather strongly hints that she’s had no accomplishments to brag about since then. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a social-democrat thinking there might have been a shelter she coulda given the dog to instead…

  5. SailorStar says

    Noem set the dog up for failure by not training it, setting it loose to cause chaos on a hunt and shocking it (causing pain and fear) for acting like a puppy on its first hunt, then let it run loose in a place with birds that it had just been encouraged to hunt, then shot it when it displeased her, then got high off the killing and went for the un-neutered goat, who angered her for…smelling and acting like an un-neutered goat. Did she imagine it was going to neuter itself? These are all HER faults, not those of the animals.

    Bird dogs in general are not a people-aggressive breed, but you can make any dog bite if you torment it enough. And who knows if the dog actually did bite a person, or that’s just a lie she’s using to justify what she did.

    I agree that she told this story to try to portray herself as a tough-as-nails rural person, just as Sarah Palin used to brag about shooting wolves from a helicopter. To normal people, this sounds like psychopathic behavior, but the base eats it up.

  6. sonofrojblake says

    I wonder at this point if she ever read “The One That Got Away”, written by Colin Armstrong under the pen-name Chris Ryan. It’s the sort of thing right-wingers read while wanking, being an account of Armstrong’s escape from Iraq after the rest of his SAS section were killed or captured. It includes an anecdote of when he shot his dog. Perhaps that’s the energy she’s going for.…-a063248811

  7. Tethys says

    Castrating pigs, goats, cattle, is standard practice in raising livestock. It’s not nearly as traumatic as humans imagine when done properly. I assume making ads about it was to demonstrate the rural roots of the candidate, rather than being some liberal elite urban politician.

    No idea if it helps them connect with their base, but I don’t think most people are going to classify killing your dog because it displeased you as an example of making ‘hard choices’.

    Both her examples illustrate her neglect in training the dog, and neutering the goat BEFORE it became dangerous.

  8. file thirteen says

    I doubt that getting awarded the title of “puppy murderer” was exactly what she had in mind

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Those who needlessly subject animals to pain should be judged in accordance with Hammurabi’s law.

  10. ardipithecus says

    What she demonstrated was an inability to evaluate options, not exactly what one wants in a leader.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Noem & Trump would make a well-matched team: the puppy shooter and the pussy grabber.

    Lots of great bumper-sticker graphics cleverness possibilities there, too.

  12. file thirteen says

    SSAT tells the story:

    The puppy had rabies, and it bit the goat, that’s why I had to put the goat down, and it was coming for my neighbour Bob’s stock, and I had to do something, I had no choice, and it was a full grown dog, not a puppy, and besides it was Bob’s dog and it had been let run wild, and I told him just the other day, Bob I said, that’s a vicious dog and I think it has rabies you know and you let it run wild all over the place, and somebody’s got to do something about it, and I know you’ve got an alcohol problem Bob but you need to put down that bottle and listen to me Bob, because I don’t want to see you lose your puppy, except that it wasn’t a puppy, it was a full grown dog, a really vicious one, I think it had rabies, you know I can tell when a dog has rabies, it’s the way it looks at you, not everyone can tell but I can tell, and I told Bob, I said that dog has rabies, but he wouldn’t listen to me and now his dog’s dead. And I told Bob I was sorry about it, that he lost his dog, but that’s the way of the world Bob I said, when a rabid dog is running wild, somebody has to do something about it. And Bob, he said I did right. Even though it was his dog. “You did right, somebody had to do it,” that’s what he said.

  13. johnson catman says

    re file thirteen @16: You forgot to add that Bob, who was a very masculine man, said “Sir” with tears in his eyes as he was telling him how right he was.

  14. lanir says

    This is anecdotal and comes with the usual caveats for such stories. I’ve only known two people who openly abused animals.

    One was a relative who occasionally punished dogs for being loyal. The punishment wasn’t physically harsh but it showed a shocking lack of empathy. It also showed an obvious glee in having control… and then being wildly irresponsible with it. This sort of behavior was less evident but present with that person’s children and allowed what could have been minor problems treatable by getting their family the help they needed fester into lifelong issues with serious impacts on multiple lives.

    The other person I’ve met who openly abused animals was arrested and convicted a few months later when they and a friend picked up a young woman from a bar in a small town and proceeded to sexually assault and murder her, then leave her body in a ditch on a country road. In court they tried to blame the friend who helped them do it, claiming they were afraid the friend would turn on them and they’d be next if they didn’t go along with it.

    It doesn’t take very much empathy to avoid shooting a puppy. In fact, I don’t think it takes any at all, it’s a position you can reason yourself into avoiding by seeing it as a matter of responsibility for training.

    If you lack a sense of empathy AND a sense of what you are actually responsible for, what kind of leader are you going to make? The kind that is willing to make the “hard choice” to sacrifice others for their convenience? Don’t we have enough leaders like that already without electing someone who wants to brag about it?

  15. birgerjohansson says

    The Republican governor is merely reverting to her original form, like a shape-shifting alien in an Antarctic base.
    She should probably try to avoid snatching flies with her tongue in public. Or molting for a fresh carapache.

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