South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential Trump running mate, writes in new book about killing her dog

The Guardian obtained a copy of Noem's soon-to-be released book. In it, she tells the story of the ill-fated Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehaired pointer she was training for pheasant hunting.
South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem
Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 26, 2024

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem — a potential running mate for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — is getting attention again. This time, it's for a new book where she writes about killing an unruly dog, and a smelly goat, too.

The Guardian obtained a copy of Noem's soon-to-be released book, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward.” In it, she tells the story of the ill-fated Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehaired pointer she was training for pheasant hunting.

She writes, according to the Guardian, that the tale was included to show her willingness to do anything “difficult, messy and ugly” if it has to be done. But backlash was swift against the Republican governor, who just a month ago drew attention and criticism for posting an infomercial-like video about cosmetic dental surgery she received out-of-state.

In her book, Noem writes that she took Cricket on a hunting trip with older dogs in hopes of calming down the wild puppy. Instead, Cricket chased the pheasants while "having the time of her life.”

On the way home from the hunting trip, Noem writes that she stopped to talk to a family. Cricket got out of Noem's truck and attacked and killed some of the family's chickens, then bit the governor.

Noem apologized profusely, wrote the distraught family a check for the deceased chickens, and helped them dispose of the carcasses, she writes. Cricket “was the picture of joy" as all that unfolded.

“I hated that dog,” Noem writes, deeming her “untrainable.”

“At that moment,” Noem writes, “I realized I had to put her down.” She led Cricket to a gravel pit and killed her.

That wasn't all. Noem writes that her family also owned a “nasty and mean” male goat that smelled bad and liked to chase her kids. She decided to go ahead and kill the goat, too. She writes that the goat survived the first shot, so she went back to the truck, got another shell, then shot him again, killing him.

Soon thereafter, a school bus dropped off Noem's children. Her daughter asked, “Hey, where's Cricket?” Noem writes.

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The excerpts drew immediate criticism on social media platforms, where many posted photos of their own pets. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign surfaced the story on social media alongside a photo of Noem with Trump.

The Lincoln Project, a conservative group that opposes Trump, posted a video that it called a “public service announcement,” showing badly behaved dogs and explaining that “shooting your dog in the face is not an option.”

“You down old dogs, hurt dogs, and sick dogs humanely, not by shooting them and tossing them in a gravel pit,” Rick Wilson of the Lincoln Project wrote on X. “Unsporting and deliberately cruel ... but she wrote this to prove the cruelty is the point.”

Noem took to social media to defend herself.

“We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm,” she said on X. “Sadly, we just had to put down 3 horses a few weeks ago that had been in our family for 25 years.”

She urged readers to preorder her book if they want “more real, honest, and politically incorrect stories that’ll have the media gasping.”

Republican strategist Alice Stewart said that while some Republican voters might appreciate the story “as a testament to her grit,” it ultimately creates a distraction for Noem.

“It’s never a good look when people think you’re mistreating animals,” Stewart said. “I have a dog I love like a child and I can’t imagine thinking about doing that, I can’t imagine doing that, and I can’t imagine writing about it in a book and telling all the world.”

It's not the first time Noem has grabbed national attention.

In 2019, she stood behind the state's anti-meth campaign even as it became the subject of some mockery for the tagline “Meth. We're on it.” Noem said the campaign got people talking about the methamphetamine epidemic and helped lead some to treatment.

Last month, Noem posted a nearly five-minute video on X lavishing praise on a team of cosmetic dentists in Texas for giving her a smile she said she can be proud of. “I love my new family at Smile Texas!” she wrote.

South Dakota law bans gifts of over $100 from lobbyists to public officials and their immediate family. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. The state attorney general’s office has declined to answer questions about whether the gift ban applies to people who are not registered lobbyists.